Bold Strokes Books Palm Springs LGBT Festival – Sun, Shorts & Chicken Fried Steak

11 Mar

Today’s guest blog comes from our own Cari Hunter, who’s just been on a book-related jolly to California (the lucky devil!)

~ ~ ~

It started out months ago as a flippant remark made to my partner: “If I get another book signed up, we’ll go to Palm Springs.” I was still busy writing story number two at the time, but the thought of heading out to the annual Bold Strokes Books Festival held in sunny California during deepest, darkest February sounded awfully attractive. When I signed the contract for Desolation Point and received a publication date of April 2013, my lovely missus reminded me of my earlier promise and then got busy Googling accommodation, flights, and the nearby national parks. Despite a fear of flying that I can only describe as “paralysing”, it seemed we were going to America…

The Joshua Tree national park sits just north of Palm Springs

Joshua Tree National Park, just north of Palm Springs

The BSB LGBT Palm Springs Book Festival takes place over a four-day weekend, with events – author panels, readings, signings, Q&As, and general daftness – held at the Casitas Laquita hotel and the Palm Springs public library. We arrived in California a few days early, determined to explore some of the desert hiking trails and avoid scaring the locals by alleviating a little of our English winter pallor. By the time the festival rolled around, I had almost mastered driving on the right (so, technically the wrong!) side of the road, suntan and cactus scratches had somewhat tempered the lily whiteness of my limbs, and we had learned that asking for a “small” portion still provided more food than we could hope to eat. The weather was hot and forecast to get hotter, Desolation Point had been rushed to the printers so it would be available early, and our hotel came with a cat. The portents were definitely good.

Cari Hunter reads from her novel

Cari Hunter reads from her novel Desolation Point

Thursday’s inaugural panel was appropriately entitled The Hook: First Scenes. I read a slightly edited version of Desolation Point’s opening scene, tried not to blow unintentional raspberries into the microphone, and then took part in a discussion that covered starting and ending a novel, changes that were made during the editing process, and tricks to grab the reader’s attention right from the outset. The ensuing Lesbian Desire panel kick-started a joke about hand washing that would run for the duration of the festival, while the Coffee Break featured UK author Jane Fletcher in a Truth or Dare battle with Georgia lovely, D. Jackson Leigh. I swooned a little over shiny new copies of my book (it might just have been the heat!) and tried not to blush when people asked me for autographs. That night we dined out with an online friend, finally, finally unravelling the mystery that is “Chicken Fried Steak”.

With the mercury continuing to rise, Friday got underway with a chat about Other Worlds, before I read for a panel discussing the Art of Romance. I had managed to find a short but sweet extract that included the phrase “bloody Nora”, didn’t contain any maiming or mayhem, and didn’t give too much away. Later, Carsen Taite nabbed me to record a very giggly video blog (see below!) where she wilfully declined to understand a word I was saying, and I deafened her with my football terrace whistle. Highlight of the day was a Coffee Break chat where Justine Saracen and Ashley Bartlett played off each other quite beautifully, took the piss out of their generational differences, and generally made us all laugh.


The British contingent! Cari Hunter & Jane Fletcher

Saturday morning saw my partner and me playing hooky at the top of the Palm Springs aerial tramway, where we trusted the helpful directions of a Ranger and promptly got lost in a foot of snow. We made it down in time for the BSB skit, which featured Nell Stark sporting a pink tutu and an atrocious British accent, Justine Saracen in a scuba mask, and Trinity Tam dressed as a cat. Suffice to say, you probably needed to be there! The closing panel on Sunday broke the mould somewhat. Deciding to forgo the traditional format, participants offered a synopsis for an upcoming work and then fielded suggestions from fellow authors on how that work could be improved. I’m not sure why Ms Saracen wasn’t keen on inserting musical numbers and a bliss montage into her book about a British nurse working in occupied Belgium during WWII, but I didn’t see her taking many notes.


Final casting call on the last day of the festival

Afterwards, there was just time for hugs, kisses, and group photos before people began to go their separate ways. We staggered back to our hotel to coo at Miss Kitty. We were knackered, happy, and already chatting about our next trip “over the pond.” Well, we came home with a few spare dollars; it’d be rude not to go back and spend them…

Click to watch the aforementioned Vlog with me and Carsen Taite!

15 Responses to “Bold Strokes Books Palm Springs LGBT Festival – Sun, Shorts & Chicken Fried Steak”

  1. Devlyn March 11, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    What a lovely blog, I am glad you and your partner had such a good time. Maybe one day when I win lotto I can fly over from the Southern Hemisphere to join you all.

    • Cari Hunter March 11, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

      I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you 🙂 We had a fabulous time – the company, the location, and the weather were all very kind to us.

  2. Susan Mitchell March 11, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    Looks like a great time. I lived there for a while, and can’t wait to go back. I used to live just outside the north entrance to Joshua Tree, and worked at Desert Hospital in Palm Springs. The desert and shorts and LesFic sounds like a great combination to me. Thanks for the book updates.

    • Cari Hunter March 11, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

      We spent two days hiking in the park and we particularly loved the area around the north entrance, it was absolutely beautiful. There’s so much to explore around Palm Springs, we walked for miles in vastly varied terrain – desert, mountain, snow, canyons.

      And I’m definitely with you; desert, shorts and LesFic are excellent companions 🙂

      Thanks for reading!

      • Susan Mitchell March 11, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

        I have a great story about camping alone up there. Perhaps I’ll write it up. I used to sunbathe out in the desert in the park, nude. (I may someday have the skin cancer to prove it.) Of course, because if the cacti, you must have shoes on at all times. There was a very interesting moment when I was stepping back into my shorts when I discovered a cholla ball stuck on my boot, that was now in my shorts. Yowza!

      • Cari Hunter March 11, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

        Ouch, that does sound painful. My partner managed to patch the shorts the yucca attacked but I was amazed by how vicious the vegetation was. I went expecting to be dodging rattlesnakes, tarantulas, and scorpions, and instead, the most dangerous things out there were the plants!

  3. Carsen Taite March 11, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    Could you repeat all that? I didn’t understand a word you said 🙂

    It was a true pleasure to meet you and now when I’m reading your books, I will do so with an accent. Jolly good!

    • Cari Hunter March 11, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

      LOL, cheeky sod 🙂

      It was an absolute pleasure to meet you too. Maybe we can team up for Desolation Point: The Audio Book *g*

      • Alena March 12, 2013 at 7:39 am #

        Hell yes! That would be great.

      • Cari Hunter March 12, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

        I think me doing the Brit-speak is probably the only way I’d ever get one of my books put into audio format 😉

  4. Rachel Dax March 12, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    Ey up chuck! Loved this blog! Sounds like you had the most amazing time. It must have been great to meet all those fabulous authors. The video with Carsen is priceless! Maybe if I ever meet her I will do my best Brummy accent and ask ‘Are yow alright are kid?’ 🙂

    • Cari Hunter March 12, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

      Ey up, cheers chuck! We had a really great time, lots of laughs, and we taught the Americans to say “‘ow do” (quintessential Lancs greeting!) Some of them were pretty damn fluent by the time the fest finished.


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