Tag Archives: Palm Springs

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!)

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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!