Pasadena Festival of Women Authors is Back in Person with a Bigger, In-Person on Saturday

Published on May 19, 2022

The Pasadena Festival of Women Authors is back in person at the Pasadena Convention Center on Saturday, May 21, after two years of virtual events.

Hosted by the Pasadena Literary Alliance, the Festival of Women Authors will celebrate seven women authors who will speak about their experiences and their insights about the state of publishing, especially as it impacts the work of women authors.

“After we’ve been unable to gather in person for so long, this will just be a celebration of being together,” Norah Morley, Chair of the Pasadena Festival of Women Authors, said. “Typically, these women would talk about their personal life as a woman and as a writer. So the speeches are not a reading from the book; they’ll be speaking from the heart, these women. So it’s a day of being able to hear from just a variety of women and their experiences, being with friends and meeting new ones, speaking about literature.”

The authors featured in the Festival include New York Times Best Selling Author Maggie Shipstead, author of the novel “Great Circle,” which was shortlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize. Her collection of short stories, “You Have a Friend in 10A,” has just recently been released.

“We will have that book for sale as well as ‘Great Circle’ as well as some of her past novels,” Morley added. “’Great Circle’ is obviously a very well-written book because it was nominated for the Booker prize, but it’s also a fascinating story that she has made up, which I think is partially modeled on Amelia Earhart because the main character is a female aviator. And then there’s a present day character who is kind of a mirror of her who is an actress who’s going to portray her in a movie about this aviator who has died. So it’s really interesting.”

The other women authors who will be honored at the Festival are Gabriela Garcia, author of “Of Women and Salt;” Nadia Hashimi, of “Sparks Like Stars;” Alka Joshi of “The Secret Keeper of Jaipur,” Sarah Manguso of “Very Cold People,” Claire Vaye Watkins of “I Love You but I’ve Chosen Darkness,” and Monica West, author of “Revival Season.”

On Festival day, check-in tables open at 8:30 a.m., with coffee and pastries available in the lobby. The Ballroom doors open at 9 a.m. and the opening program starts at 9:30 a.m.

The event will include breakout groups where three authors will speak in turn and take questions from the audience.

“The audience would choose to go to one of those panels,” Morley said. “In addition, we are going to have another session where we have three of our grantees who support young emerging authors speak as well. So there’ll be these other authors.”

Alka Joshi, who published her first book in her 60s, will be in the main ballroom. Her first book, “The Henna Artist,” was published just when the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down.

The Pasadena Festival of Women Authors started in 2009 through the efforts of the founders, Susan Long and Elsie Sadler, who felt that book lovers in Pasadena would embrace the experience of a literary event and would make donations to support the community.

For the first seven years, the Festival was hosted at the Pasadena Senior Center. In 2016, the PFWA Committee established the Pasadena Literary Alliance and moved the Festival of Women Authors to the Pasadena Hilton Hotel to accommodate a larger audience.

In 2018, the Pasadena Literary Alliance provided grants from the proceeds of the Festival to Pasadena City College and its Writers in Residence program and Summer Creative Writing Academy, the Pasadena Senior Center’s Lifetime Learning Masters in Learning Series, Pasadena Public Library’s One City One Story Program, PEN America’s Emerging Voices Fellowship, and WriteGirl and its writing seminars for high school student.

Parking at the Pasadena Convention Center is available for $15 for the event day, up to 16 hours. There are two entrances between Green St. and Cordova Street. One entrance is on Marengo Ave. to the west, and the other is on Euclid Ave. to the east. Alternate parking is also available nearby.

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