My favorite weekend of the year is the second weekend in March. I look forward to it the way kids look forward to Christmas morning. Over 100,000 people who love books descend upon Tucson, Arizona to meet authors, attend presentations and panels, browse book-related gifts, and enjoy what is usually perfect weather.
I’ve been attending this festival for seven years, missing only the first year because I hadn’t heard about it. I’ve gotten to talk with, shake the hands of, or just listen to many of my favorite authors. I stood in a long line for a long time on different occasions to listen to Larry McMurtry, Nancy Turner, Richard Russo and Luis Alberto Urrea. I boughta copy of Deadwood and got to chat with Pete Dexter while he signed it. That was after listening to this delightfully interesting and curmudgeonly talk for over an hour (don’t mention the HBO version of Deadwood or Alec Baldwin. Ever).
Workshops and panels cover every topic under the sun, every genre of writing, every form of writing. Literature, romance novels, mysteries, crime, historical, western, young adult (there is a huge section just for kids), memoir, science, biography, history. It’s all there. And it’s all free.
This year I had the added pleasure of actually being one of the participating authors. I got to sell and sign my newly released novel Chasm Creek in the central Author Pavilion for a couple of hours. I was in heaven. I made friends with the couple at the next table. I talked to a lot of folks and handed out a lot of book marks. Friends came by (and bought books – thank you!)
One of the highlights for me is getting together with a large community of authors, fellow students, and friends for Saturday night dinner at the Blue Willow restaurant. This year, twenty of us filled up the entire back end of the patio. Fun and friendship!
If you live in Arizona or would like to plan a wonderful vacation (sunshine, temperatures in the 80s, gorgeous scenery, friendly people), mark the second weekend in March in your planning calendar. You won’t be sorry.