Masha Hamilton, me and Jamie Ford with Darth Vader & pal at the first TFOB 2009.
This is a love story.
Arizona has given me so much. Now, on the eve of our return to the epic Tucson Festival of Books, I am thinking about this complex history. After all, my year of living on the edge in Tucson brought me my bride. Yup--Cinderella was a Tucson Citizen reporter.
Arizona gave me these books: The Hummingbird's Daughter, The Devil's Highway, Nobody's Son, Wandering Time, Vatos, Ghost Sickness, In Search of Snow, Queen of America and one you don't even know exists--A World of Turtles. It gave me the story that won the Edgar Award, "Amapola." Add that to many miles of long hikes, haunted houses, coffee breaks at The Cup in the Hotel Congress, my bud Joey Burns and Calexico (met him at TFoB), the Biggers bros, and cousins I didn't know....well.
I could go on, but you get the picture.
(My presentation with T. Jefferson Parker at TFOB2012)
Tucson Festival of Books: the best book festival in the country. Hands-down. TFoB has given me so much--friendships. Insane audiences. Loving care. And small moments of heart-rending delight. For example, a couple of years ago, Yaqui high school kids came with their librarian to talk to me about Teresita. They brought me lapel pins with the tribal symbols so people would know we were colleagues. And a medicine man appeared and blessed me. Goose-bumps.
Arizona gave me writer pals, medicine people, curanderas, rock and rollers, Border Patrol agents, film makers, naturalists, haiku, zen poetry, Dick Shelton, criminals, rattlesnakes, El Tiradito, green tamales, ghosts, roadrunners, javelinas, the Historical Society, Tubac, Frog Mountain, saguaros, Rancho Teresita in Benson, the oasis on the north side, late lamented awesome book stores. Say, Tucsonenses--why aren't we bringing back The Haunted Bookstore? I even sang karaoke for the first time in Arizona.
(I was the TFOB2012 Keynote Speaker. That same year, my book was the UAReads selection)
Oh yeah--I got banned from schools for the first time, too. No, TUSD--no need to send me another letter explaining how I'm a liar and no books of mine were BANNED, just BOXED and REMOVED and anyway, it was all about destroying Mexican American Studies. I get it. We all get it.
(Curtis Acosta, me, Jamie Ford, Ann Hood and Thomas Cobb at a Save Ethnic Studies fundraiser TFOB 2011)
Last year, TFOB was kind and soulful enough to provide a meeting room for Curtis Acosta and some of the banned Mexican Americans to spend an hour with me (and that troublesome Santino Rivera). We shared deep feelings and some laughter and some tears. And then Tucson astounded us all--we adjourned to a public session taped by C-SPAN. About the non-banning of the books. (That damned narco illegal wetback Shakespeare.) We asked the studets to sit in the front row. It was standing room only. And when I asked the kids to stand, they got a crushing ovation that didn't want to stop. All I said was, "Tucson, these are your children."
(Me with Curtis Acosta and his banned Mexican-American studies students at TFOB2013)
What a beautiful gift. It is about children, not famous authors. It is about the future. It is about the words. It is about us, this family, this America, this Baja Arizona, right now. Forever.
I'll see you there. If not this year, be sure you're there next year. I have been at every one, and I hope to be there for all the rest.
Here's a little gallery for you:
(T.Jefferson Parker & I at TFOB 2013; Met up with local Tucson artist Mel Dominguez at TFBO2012)
(My panel with Mary Russell Doria TFOB 2012 & the jam-packed tent for my session with Diana Galbadon TFOB 2011)
Book club members have been some of my most enthusiastic and careful readers. I’m thrilled to share my work with you, answer your questions and tell you some of the stories behind the stories. This is our spot, just for us. Here, we can chat: If I’m nearby, I’ll come and visit your club. Otherwise, we can Skype, talk over the phone or email. Sometimes, I’ll send surprises or hold contests.
Visiting with the hometown crowd in El Cajon. Details to come.
Visiting with my home peeps in El Cajon. See you there! Details to come.
Thrilled to return to celebrate with our friends on the shores of Wallowa Lake. Details to come.