LA Times Festival of Books: Conversation with Carolyn See, Lisa See and Barbara Isenberg

Carolyn See and Lisa See at the LA times Festival of Books, Photo by Nancy MundoIf there’s anything to critique about this year’s LA Times Festival of Books it’s that there were so many great events, so many authors, so many panels, so many booths, so much going on at the various stages that it was tough to choose which events to attend. Two days just isn’t enough time!

That being said, thanks to some careful planning and a few tough decisions, the LA Books Examiner did everything possible and had a great time in the process. Yesterday I shared a slide show highlighting various readers at LA Times Poetry Stage, and today I’ll share another slide show from a couple of the panel discussions that made the tough decisions seem like the right ones.

But first I wanted to discuss in detail one panel I attended with California authors Carolyn See and Lisa See in Conversation with author Barbara Isenberg, which not surprisingly, filled UCLA’s Young Hall to capacity.

Carolyn See, the Grand Dame of California Literature, is a long-time book critic for the Washington Post, former UCLA professor, and bestselling author of 11 fiction and non-fiction books. Her latest book is There Will Never Be Another You.

In answering questions from moderator Barbara Isenberg, author of Conversations with Frank Gehry, Carolyn shared some great anecdotes and advice about her life, her career, and her unique family history that plays such an important role in her writing. Her father, whose link to the world of pornography, became a humorous touchstone the authors, and even the audience during Q&A, returned to several times for a good laugh.

Carolyn also revealed that she is working on a new memoir about growing old, which led to a powerful and surprising revelation of a dark period in her life that, after a string of deaths of some of her close friends and loved ones and other painful events, had Carolyn questioning her purpose on the planet. For most people, this serious confession could’ve grinded such an event to a halt. But, Carolyn, in her typical fashion, somehow found the humor in it all, and quickly had us laughing again, seemingly at her — and our own — mortality. I can’t wait for this book!

For Lisa See, daughter of Carolyn See, and the bestselling author of six novels, including her latest book Shanghai Girls, history, the importance of place, and the roles and relationships of women were some of the topics she discussed while sharing wonderful stories about her Chinese-American family’s long history in California. She talked about research and the importance of preserving our collective Californian history through writing and educational opportunities. She also revealed that she was more than 200 pages in to a new book, a sequel to Shanghai Girls, which after some urging from Isenberg (and a series of telepathic requests the LA Books Examiner) she gave us a bit of what we could expect.

Check out the slide show which also includes photos from a panel discussion called Mystery: The Page Turners. Moderated by veteran LA Times critic and mystery author Mary McNamara, this panel featured mega-bestselling suspense writers Karin Slaughter, David Ellis, Andrew Gross and Gregg Hurwitz.

Related Articles

Poetry reading highlights from the LA Times Festival of Books (slide show) 

Most Influential: Five favorite books by bestselling author Robert Dugoni  

The LA Times Festival of Books: Everything you need for a great weekend  

The Mystery Bookstore has nearly 80 authors scheduled to appear at the LA Times Festival of Books 

Shanghai Girls: an Interview with Bestselling Author Lisa See


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