Signing Under the Palm Trees

We’re just back from the Tucson Festival of Books. What words best describe this two year-old event?

Colorful. Friendly. Busy. Active. Varied. Crowded.

Me and Dennis McKiernan before we went into the sun

Yes, in a United States of America in which we are constantly informed that no one reads anymore, this book festival was packed.

The Festival was held on the mall that bisects a portion of University of Arizona’s large and lovely campus. White tents adorned with pastel balloons sheltered both exhibitors and attendees from the sun. Even early in the morning, the aisles between these tents were busy. At mid-day, they were positively packed. The panels and author talks (given in lecture halls) were well-attended.

Although I was working (I had two book signings, a panel discussion, and gave an interview), Jim and I found time to walk around and enjoy the event. We were really impressed by how tightly the Festival remained focused on its chosen topic.

Yes. There was a food court. Yes. There were a few tents where people were playing music. Yes. There were some public out-reach groups handing out information but, overwhelmingly, this event was about reading and the joy it brings.

The attendees varied from babies in strollers (delighted to meet Pat the Bunny, Skippie John Jones, and other costumed characters) to teenagers and college students, to older people ambling along with walkers. Volunteers in pale yellow shirts decorated with hummingbirds were everywhere, eager to help you find the author event you wanted to attend.

The weather was a delight. Warm on Saturday, a bit cooler on Sunday, especially in the morning. Yet even on Sunday, the clear, bright sun never gave up on us. When we realized we were shivering, Dennis McKiernan and I simply moved our signing for Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore out into the middle of an aisle where we could stay in the sun.

Did I have fun? Definitely. Despite the crowds, the open-air format meant there was always room to sit and chat, whether with old friends (we were lucky enough to meet up with Charles DeLint, MaryAnn Harris, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Jim Frenkel, Joan Vinge, and, of course, Dennis McKiernan) or someone newly met (too many to list, but readers Samantha and Faith; Nancy the volunteer; and author Janni Lee Simner were all bright spots).

Am I sorry the excitement is over and I’m at my desk? No. I’ve already been back to writing. Stories are unfolding, and I have memories of palm trees, cacti, and lots of smiles to brighten my day.


3 Responses to “Signing Under the Palm Trees”

  1. Tori Says:

    Skippie John Jones?! Lucky! 😉 Heh, the little Siamese kitty who thinks he’s a chihuahua cracks me up.

    Was the interview you gave transcribed or recorded so that those not present at the festival might be able to access it at a later time?

  2. Jane Lindskold Says:

    Hi, Tori.

    Sorry it took me so long to answer, but I wanted to ask the interviewer for details.

    Cathy Book says the interview will be available in the first week of June at

    Thanks for asking!

  3. Ann Nalley Says:

    In think what struck me the most about this post ~ although the entire post is quite interesting ~ is that “America doesn’t read anymore.” If that’s the case, then I don’t really qualify as an American, nor do most of the people with whom I associate on a regular basis. That being said, I am a school teacher and a book junkie… I almost never turn on the TV in our house, and if it’s on, usually I’m somewhere else…

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