Festival Celebrates Women Authors, Explores Their Inspiration and Work

Co-Chairs Katie Poole and Leslie ZasaJan Sanders delivering her kickoff speech at the Pasadena Festival of Women Authors.Janice Steinberg Talking about her book The Tin Horse at the Pasadena Festival of Women Authors.Tupelo Hassman talks about her book Girlchild at the Pasadena Festival of Women Authors.Co-Chair Katie PooleFestival Celebrates Women Authors, Explores Their Inspiration and WorkFestival Celebrates Women Authors, Explores Their Inspiration and WorkFestival Celebrates Women Authors, Explores Their Inspiration and WorkTupelo Hassman\'s baby in attendance with her husband. He was the inspiration behind her book, Breast Milk, which will be released in April.Tupelo Hassman\'s baby in attendance with her husband. He was the inspiration behind her book, Breast Milk, which will be released in April.

RACHEL YOUNG

7:55 am | March 10, 2014


Four renowned women authors from Southern California told tales of their most recent books and the sometimes-dreadful writing process they all endure at the sixth annual Pasadena Festival of Women Authors on Saturday before a rapt crowd at the Pasadena Senior Center.

Coinciding with International Women’s Day, the authors encouraged the women, many of whom came with their book clubs, to keep finding themselves in the pages as they continue to voraciously read.

“For writers and readers we find our truest self on the page, over and over again and it surprises us even if it is something that was always there,” Tupelo Hassman said who won the 2013 Alex Award for her first novel “Girlchild.”

Hassman will soon be publishing a book titled “Breastmilk” in April that she wrote in a journal while she was breastfeeding. Although it took her several unfulfilling professions to realize she was a writer, she said the writing process has now changed significantly with her eight month old child coming onto the scene. She told about how the people in her life came to a consensus that she was a writer before she ever realized it.

“I was in the car by myself and I whispered, ‘I don’t want to be an actor anymore,’” I think it was the first time I ever had an opinion about my life,” Hassman said.

When she reread her journals for inspiration for her writing class at Santa Monica Community College, she found she had repeatedly written in every journal, “Maybe I should quit all this and become a writer.”

She became that writer and now she proudly drives her “baby” named “Girlchild” to all its events, feeling like the book’s soccer mom that she keeps attending all the games for because it plays well. With raw characters and candid remarks, “Girlchild” tells a story about a mother who drinks and a daughter who overcomes abuse, poverty and lack of education.

“These authors show we are not alone in our suffering, our laughter, our joy, I am extremely excited to be hear today to hear what these ladies have to say,” Director of Libraries and Information Services for the City of Pasadena Jan Sanders said.

Sanders kicked off the event.

Janice Steinberg, author of “The Tin Horse,” enjoys learning more about her Jewish roots. When she writes a book, she entirely immerses herself into her research and tries to become part of the era, which is exactly what she did when writing this book. She listened to several audio files recorded by Jews living in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles in the 1920s and 30s that fueled much of her book, and even made a map of what the city looked like in that era.

Set in Boyle Heights in the 1930s, “The Tin Horse” tells the story of Jewish twins growing up and indulges in Steinberg’s fascinated obsessions of twins, sisters and Jewish heritage.

“This was the book that revealed itself to me a little bit at a time. I couldn’t plan it out in advance. Early on I knew there was something about a sister,” Steinberg said after sharing her first story that she wrote at age 7 that told a story of twins.

Steinberg said writing came to her naturally because she had immersed herself in good books from an early age, reading them as fast as she could find them, and even pinning down her early obsession with twins dating back to her reading  ”The Bobbsey Twins.”

“For those of us who are readers, its nourishment, we need stories the way we need food,” Steinberg said.

In light of International Women’s Day she said that primarily women have helped been midwives in giving her birth to her voice as a writer, and helping her stay true to her vision and persevere when things got tough.

Christina Schwarz of South Pasadena spoke about her #1 New York Seller Edge of the Earth and Helene Wecker shared stories about “The Golem” and the “Jinni.

Held at the Pasadena Senior Center, the proceeds benefit the center as well as the Pasadena City College writer in residence Denise Hamilton.

Visit www.pasadenafestivalofwomenauthors.org for more information.