top of page
  • Writer's pictureggcarroll


The Tucson Festival of Books (TFOB) was a well-organized flurry of authors, books, readings, as well as food and music. Phew…almost too much to comprehend. Certainly, too much to take in over two days. As the Arizona Daily Star reported, “An estimated 130,000 people celebrated their love of literature at the 10th annual Tucson Festival of Books over the weekend.”

I went to Tucson a few days earlier, so I could spend time with my sister, do some sightseeing

and ‘thrifting’ (shopping at thrift stores…my sister’s latest passion.) But when TFOB started, we went our separate ways, meeting occasionally to hear writers that appealed to both of us.

I live tweeted as much as I could, took some underlit photos and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Instead of doing a review of what I saw and heard, I’ll use some of my tweets.

Scott Torow (Presumed Innocent, Testimony) and Greg Iles (Natchez Burning, Mississippi Blood) were interviewed by San Francisco mystery writer, Cara Black. She had the task of wrangling these men and keeping them on topic. Not an easy task since they liked to riff off each other.

Some quotes:

Torow: “Writers are the real rock stars. I will write for a year…different things that may fit into a book. Then I will ask myself ‘how do these things get put together."

Iles: "Writing is sitting in a room with yourself for a year. The band for us is the best therapy in the world.” (The band he talks about is the Rock Bottom Remainders. Band members are authors Amy Tan, Turow, Dave Barry, Iles, to name a few. They performed at TFOB.)

From this ballroom filled with 900 people, I ran across campus to the library to hear authors who place their thrillers in countries other than the United States. Writers were Iona Whishaw, Canadian mystery writer who pens the Lane Winslow series, Cara Black, who writes the Aimée Leduc mysteries set in Paris and Walter Gragg, author of The Red Line, a WWIII (yes, WWIII) thriller.

Gragg: “It’s not so hard to come up with an idea. It is all those months sitting in front of a blank screen that is hard.”

Black: “Inspiration comes from a lot of places. Everything in life has prepared me for the next steps.

Getting lost in Paris really prepared me.”

After this panel, I found myself sitting in a room waiting to hear about amateur sleuths, which is what my character, Trisha Carson, is. However, I managed to lose the charger and plug to my phone somewhere and had to go buy a new one because my next author, was US Poet Laureate Billy Collins and I wanted to be ready. It turns out, I was mesmerized by him reading his poetry and I forgot about tweeting. I would listen to him again in a heartbeat.

Katy Tur, NBC news correspondent, who covered the Trump campaign finished off the day. She was interviewed by NPR’s Scott Simon and was fascinating. Although there were many tweets, the one that readers responded to was: Tur: “I do think that the mistake we made in 2016 is we didn’t put enough voters on the air.”

That ended Day 1. Day 2 was just as jam packed. I went to hear a panel of literary agents who frankly left me feeling a little depressed. Everyone in that room, including me, was looking for the magic words that would make an agent fall in their lap. There are no such things, just hard work and writing a top-notch query letter.

If you are a high tech thriller kind of person, you would have enjoyed listening to Mark Greaney.

Greaney: “My editor asked me if I wanted to collaborate with Tom Clancy on his books. I was terrified, but I couldn’t say, ‘well, I think I’ll pass.’”

And James Rollins, author of the bestselling Sigma Force series: “I call someone up and say, ‘I’m writing a novel, I’d like to ask a few questions.’ Once I had five entomologists on speed dial. I’m sure they wanted me to lose their numbers.”

My Festival ended up listening to NPR’s Scott Simon talk about the

Chicago Cubs. He filled a ballroom of about 900 people and was congenial and thoughtful and funny. Said Simon: “I don’t believe in curses, but with the Cubs, I had some doubts…Undoubtedly I love the Cubs. Wrigley Field was everybody’s back yard.” The audience loved him, his family and his dog, Daisy, who slept through most of his presentation.

This is only a little of what I heard and saw. More tweets are on Twitter @ggcarroll. As for the TFOB, if you like authors and books, this is the place to be and it is all free. Definitely worth a trip.

34 views0 comments
bottom of page