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LAT Festival Of Books: Saturday Author Highlights

Candice Aman |
May 1, 2011 | 9:42 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Thousands of people traversed to the Mecca of all things literary on Saturday to be part of the "Los Angeles Times" Festival of Books in its inaugural year at the University of Southern California.

A smorgasbord of writers, including Jennifer Egan, T.C. Boyle and Patti Smith, amid many others came out to talk and interact with their fans. Among them, Rainn Wilson, Jamie Lee Curtis and R.L Stine were some standout authors that attracted the largest crowds.

The Los Angeles Times Stage

Rainn Wilson (Photos by Kristin Yinger)
Rainn Wilson (Photos by Kristin Yinger)
Comedian, actor, and now writer, Rainn Wilson joined Amy Alkon in an interview to talk about his best-selling book “Soul Pancake: Chew on Life’s Big Questions” at the Los Angeles Time Stage outside the Von Kleinsmid Center early in the day.

Wilson, widely known for his role as Dwight Schruite, the quirky sidekick to Steve Carell’s character, on the hit NBC show, “The Office,” is a devout Baha’i, a faith that emphasizes the unity of mankind, and shares his journey to spirituality in the book.

Filled with thought provoking questions, activities and plenty of art from  up and coming artists, Wilson describes “SoulPancake” to be “one giant coloring book that asks you questions about spirituality and philosophy.”

Co-authors Devon Gundry, Golriz Lucina and Shabnam Mogharabi later joined Wilson on stage for the question and answer portion of the panel.

The team is currently hard at work creating some webisodes based of the book as well as a possible television show for Oprah Winfrey’s O Network.

Target Children Stage

Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis
Perhaps some of the most widely loved writers came out in celebration to foster reading amongst children.

Actress and philanthropist Jamie Lee Curtis greeted a packed audience filled with rowdy and excited kids as well as their parents with sheer enthusiasm at McCarthy Quad.

Her 10th children’s book, “My Mommy Hung the Moon: A Love Story,” delves into the million dollar question, “What do mommies do?” which Curtis also had a chance to ask the audience.

“Mommies do everything!” a little girl in the front row said.

Inspired by her relationship with her daughter, Curtis began writing children’s books.

“The most important relationship you have in your life is your first imprint with your mother,” Curtis said.

R.L. Stine
R.L. Stine

In addition to reading from her newest book, Curtis also left the crowd with some advice.

I barely graduated from high school. I mean, I am the poster child for underachievers. You do not need great scores, you just need an open mind and you can do anything in the world,” Curtis said. “And I am a testament to that.”

Sharing the same stage was children’s horror writer, R.L. Stine who came later in the afternoon to try and scare the audience with a ghost story.

Stine, the famous author of the Goosebumps series, who has been scaring children through his books since the early 1990’s, opened his talk by reading one of Shel Silverstein’s poems called, “Haunted.”

“This poem reminds me of the writing I like to do: funny and scary,” Stine said.

Following the poem, Stine began telling a scary story and encouraged plenty of interaction of what the characters should do next from his fans.

“What do you think? Should Joe go into the barn? Let’s vote,” Stine said to an overwhelming amount of people who yelled out that he should.

“Good,” Stine said. “It wouldn’t be much of a scary story if he didn’t go into the barn.”

With a first day packed with plenty of famous writers and celebrity appearances, the Festival of Books' move to its new home is already shaping up to be a success.

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