TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Award winning novelist, Lydia Millet, lives right here in the Old Pueblo and is excited to take part in the virtual Tucson Festival of Books .
“Then a big storm comes, and everything is sort of turned on its head and chaos descends on the characters in the book."
Millet is talking about her latest book, A Children’s Bible.
"It looks like this. I didn’t of course design the cover myself. It's a novel about a group of teenagers who are really ashamed of their parents. I was inspired by my own children not wanting to dance with me anymore when they reached a certain age.”
Millet has written twelve other works of fiction.
“When someone likes one of my books, I'm devoted to that person forever. Basically, you know, if they love my books, I love them. So, it does make me really happy to talk to readers and meet them," Millet said.
She’ll get the chance to do that virtually this year during the Tucson Festival of Books where Millet will be part of a couple of sessions.
"I'm excited about being a moderator for the festival for the first time because I get to sort of host a panel with two people I really admire. One of whom is Kim Stanley Robinson, who is a really well-known science fiction writer and has a new book out.”
She’s lived in Tucson and been part of the festival for many years. Millet said while she will miss being able to see readers and authors in person, “The sort of silver lining of the virtual format is that we can get all these people who usually might not be able to visit Tucson on that particular weekend.”
A silver lining we can all appreciate as the Festival of Books continues to be one the biggest fests in the country.
"I think it's incredibly impressive the folks who organized this book festival made it into such a big thing in such a short period of time. I think it's great for the community."
Millet’s latest novel, "A Children’s Bible," was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction and named one of the ten best books of the year by the New York Times Review.
If you want to check her out and the many other authors taking part virtually at the Tucson Festival of Books, click here.
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The Tucson Festival of Books is still finding a way to reach book lovers.
"Our authors are going to be coming to us from their hometowns. Some of them are of course local Tucson authors," said Melanie Morgan, the Executive Director of the festival.
For 2021, the festival is going all virtual.
"It actually allows a lot of people who've in the past had accessibility issues to attend the festival. So, it's actually something that we're hoping to maybe continue into the future," said Morgan.
She remembers last year, it all had to be cancelled just four days before the first event, but organizers were able to try some sessions online later on.
"They were so well received and so popular that by May, we were doing one a week," Morgan said.
Now, on Saturday, March 6th, book lovers can hop online, where it's all free.
"People are able to attend our author dinner, which is normally a paid event, for free this year as well. So, they will be able to take part in that Friday night as well," Morgan added.
There are 165 authors taking part. That number may be lower than years before, but Morgan said, "Being virtual has allowed us to access authors that we wanted to get for the festival for just years, but for whatever reason, they have been unable to travel to Tucson."
Morgan calls the author lineup fabulous. "One of the authors I'm most excited about this year is actually Dean Koontz. He is a really popular writer and he's been unable to come to the festival."
Reading enthusiasts have 96 sessions to pick from.
"We also have some really fantastic political authors. Ann Applebaum is joining us. Her book is the Twilight of Democracy," Morgan said.
A big part of the festival fun is also for the kids.
"Gene Yang who was unable to join us last year because the festival was cancelled," Morgan said. "He's coming back this year. His book is Dragon Hoops."
For teachers Morgan added, "Any teacher can go onto the festival website and learn how to get their free professional education credit from the festival this year. All they have to do is fill out a quick form and they will be sent the information."
You can still buy books and support local literacy programs. The official bookseller of the fest is the University of Arizona Bookstores.
"Every session is going to have a link that they can buy a book from the bookstore and of course support the bookstores which have you know obviously had a lot of changes because of the pandemic," Morgan said.
The Tucson Festival of Books has been able to make donations to literacy programs, but they haven't been as large as before the pandemic.
"They have been hit by the pandemic and the great thing about Literacy Connects is people, individuals, can support them. Even if they're not supporting the festival, they are eligible for the tax credit," Morgan said.
Right now, you can look into the author sessions and events happening at the virtual Tucson Festival of Books starting Friday night.
Click here to go to the festival's website.