Tickets are now on sale for Long Beach’s annual Literary Women Festival of Authors, which returns to the Long Beach Convention Center on Feb. 11.
The all-day conference includes coffee, rolls, lunch and the opportunity to listen to and interact with the event’s featured authors, said Literary Women chair Anne Emigh.
This year’s featured authors are:
- Aamina Ahmad, author of “The Return of Faraz Ali”
- Nina de Gramont, author of “The Christie Affair”
- Laurie Frankel, author of “One Two Three”
- Xochitl Gonzalez, author of “Olga Dies Dreaming”
- Nana Nkweti, author of “Walking on Cowrie Shells”
- Nita Prose, author of “The Maid”
- Mary Roach, author of “Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law”
The festival began in 1982 when its two founders, Harriet Williams and Virginia Laddey, were shocked to discover their children’s high school reading syllabus included barely any female authors.
Although today’s syllabi are generally split more evenly, there is still great value in promoting women authors and their voices, Emigh said.
“It’s uplifting and encouraging to women everywhere,” she said.
The organization also supports an emerging writer program, which invites writers from programs at California State University Long Beach, Long Beach City College, Chapman University and PEN America Los Angeles to the festival, seating them at a table with an author they admire, said Emigh.
In the 40 years since the event began, authors such as Mary Higgins Clark, Lisa See, Barbara Kingsolver, Aimee Bender, Roxane Gay, Isabel Wilkerson, Octavia Butler and Rae Armentrout have attended the festival.
Featured authors typically speak for about 40 minutes, sharing their backgrounds and writing processes, and are chosen by the Literary Women committee, who read year-round to select a diverse group of both established and emerging writers whose books span a range of topics and genres.
“If you look at that room, everyone is at rapt attention, they’re like rock stars to us,” Emigh said. “You really could hear a pin drop.”
In the early days of the festival, people would race home from work as soon as registration forms were sent out on Dec. 31, and would race to the post office to mail their registrations as soon as possible, Emigh said.
“If you didn’t get in right away, typically you couldn’t, it was that popular,” Emigh said.
Although registrations are now online instead of by mail, over the years, the event has continued to attract hundreds of authors and bibliophiles, with many mothers, daughters and old friends attending together each year, Emigh said.
“I’m just so proud of us. It’s hard for a lot of nonprofits, and we are an all-volunteer organization,” Emigh said. “It was the passion of these ladies, and the passion of all the members who love to read and want everyone to enjoy our diverse authors and amazing storytellers, and it’s the passion of Long Beach—the culture here is that people look forward to this event all year long.”
Tickets are $120 plus a $5 processing fee and can be purchased here.
“We have been subsidizing ticket prices every year, last year, tickets were $115, but it actually costs $182 per person,” Emigh said.
Emigh hopes to add more sponsorships to future festivals to make the event more affordable.
“We have a couple of new wonderful sponsors that have joined, so we’re going in the right direction,” Emigh said. This year’s new sponsors include the Don Temple Family Charitable Foundation and Emigh Dental Care.
“Everybody who comes feels it’s well worth it, but we want more people to be able to attend,” Emigh said.
“Every year people say, ‘That was the best festival,’ and we hope we have that feeling this year,” Emigh said.