Book Fest

I had a wonderful time at the Los Angeles Festival of Books. In addition to meeting lots of terrific readers and fans, I also got to catch up with some of my favorite writers and friends like Paul Levine (who just finished writing a new novel), Denise Hamilton (favorably compared to Chandler in the LA Times this weekend), Steve Cannell (who told me he’s releasing all his old shows on DVD, including the late great COBRA, which I worked on for him), Victor Gischler (visiting LA for the first time and catching a prizefight while he was at it), Barbara Seranella (taking her wicked sense of humor out for a test drive), Roger Simon (playing with his new camera), Gayle & Dennis Lynds (Lit royalty from Santa Barbara), Dick Lochte (with whom I love talking shop), Kent Harrington (his DARK RIDE is a noir classic and he’s probably sick of me telling him that all the time), Richard Barre (a great writer and now editor at Capra Press), Gregg Hurwitz (a newlywed), GM Ford (also a newlywed), Scott Phillips (still high from the news his ICE HARVEST is now filming), Tom Nolan (his Ross McDonald biography is a must read), Eric Garcia (just back from the set of the new ANONYMOUS REX TV series), Terry Erdman (Mr. Star Trek), TJ Parker (sharing some of his adventures in television), Mary Yukuri Waters (a wonderful short story writer) Jerrylin Farmer (who always gives me great advice…though this time we shared broken bone horror stories), Nathan Walpow, Gary Phillips, Rhys Bowen, Aimee Bender, Leonard Maltin, Tom Taylor, SL Stebel, and John Morgan Wilson. I also got to meet and chat with Bruce Wagner, Raymond Benson (now writing the Bond books), Sean Doolittle, Leslie Silbert, Joanne Fluke (great cookies!), Rachel Resnick (author of “Go West Young Fucked Up Girl”), Diane Wagman, and John Connolly.

By far, though, the highlight of the weekend for me was the hour or so I spent after the book awards chatting with Donald Westlake (first with Dick Lochte, who introduced us, then later with my brother Tod and Denise Hamilton). We talked about writing styles and techniques, the book business, screenwriting, and the movie adaptations of his work. We also talked about some of our favorite authors and he shared some marvelous anecdotes about Rex Stout, Elmore Leonard, Lawrence Block, Evan Hunter and my buddy Richard S. Prather. I was wowed. He’s a living legend and a hell of a nice guy, too.

For pictures from the Fest, check out Roger Simon’s blog or Aldo Calcagno’s site.

8 thoughts on “Book Fest”

  1. And a great wrap-up, too–seems like the crime fiction world in general is in a state of nuptial bliss, with with Hurwitz, G.M. Ford and at the end of the week, Otto Penzler. Interesting…!

  2. Donald Westlake! You got to have a chat with Donald Westlake? Donald Westlake talked to you? I love Donald Westlake! How come you didn’t tell me you were going to talk to Donald Westlake? I love Donald Westlake! Did you get him to sign his book, any book? Did you get a photo of Donald Westlake writing anything – anything? Donald Westlake! Gees, I love Donald Westlake!
    OK a serious question. We all know Mr. Westlake wrote under the name Richard Stark. The first Richard Stark book, ‘The Hunter,’ has been put on the screen twice. The first version, ‘Point Blank’, I consider one of the top 10 movies of the past 50 years. The second version, ‘Payback’, I consider one of the two worst movies of the past 50 years.
    Did Mr. Westlake give any opinion of these two versions of the book?
    PS: Interestingly the lead in Payback, Mel Gibson, was also the lead in the worst movie of the past 50 years, ‘Tequila Sunrise’. During all the brouhaha over the ‘Passion’ nobody talked about the many violent and sick movies Mel Gibson has made over the years.

  3. I couldn’t believe how nice and friendly Westlake was…and how open and enthusiastic about writing. He did offer opinions about just about ALL of his adaptations, but since it was a personal conversation, I don’t feel comfortable “publishing” his views. I learned so much from him in just that hour that will have a real impact on my own writing. And yeah, I had him sign a book for me! I may be an author but I am a mystery fan first!
    on a seperate note, I think have the book fest as a goal really helped me heal/recuperate, though I am pretty exhausted and sore today. I don’t know if I ever mentioned this, but having two broken arms (well, one now that the left is out of the cast), is no fun.

  4. Lee,
    Great wrap-up of the festival. I would have loved to talk to Westlake too. And you said Cannell is releasing ALL of his shows on DVD?? Oh, please tell me that Stingray and Riptide are included and I will be one happy camper!

  5. Lee,
    I found Westlake to be very approachable too. On Friday night I was able to ask him several questions and I loved the responses, though my questions were probably more fan based.
    You looked great, could hardly tell that you were a week post-operative and the cast didn’t seem to slow down from signing any books. Yeah, I agree the TiVo remote would have been a nice orthopedic addition to your replacement joint.

  6. Aldo,
    It was great seeing you, too… I was so glad to get out of the house, see my friends, and make some new ones. But I think I pushed myself a bit too hard, because I’m really feeling it today…it was worth it, though!
    Cannell struck a deal with Anchor Bay to, over time, release his whole library on DVD (of the shows he owns, which wouldpreclude, I think, A TEAM and some others ). I, too, would love to see Stingray in the mix…a great series.

  7. Donald Westlake

    Donald Westlake not only wrote great books that entertained millions of people, he wrote books that inspired people to become authors. All you have to do is look at all the heart-felt tributes from authors in the aftermath of Westlake’s…


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