#AWP16 Featured Presenter Q&A with Susan Orlean & Domingo Martinez

AWP | March 2016

Event Title: Domingo Martinez, Susan Orlean, and Jess Walter: The Thrills and Perils of a Screen Adaptation, Sponsored by Hugo House
Description: Celebrated authors Domingo Martinez, Susan Orlean, and Jess Walter discuss their fascinating, heartbreaking, and amusing experiences being involved (or uninvolved) in the adaptation, or rumored adaptation, of their books for television and film. Their presentation represents a full range of experiences with this so-called "fifth genre" (adapting an original work for a different medium).
Participants: Domingo Martinez, Peter Mountford, Susan Orlean, and Jess Walter
Date & Time:Thursday, March 31, 2016, 4:30pm – 5:45pm

Q: What are some of the conference events (besides your own) and/or bookfair exhibitors you are most excited to see?
Susan: Claudia Rankine, of course! And I won't miss the readings by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Edward Hirsch, Emily St. John Mandel, Hector Tobar, and Amy Wilentz. I'm also excited about all the events focusing on California writing and writers, since I'm a new(ish) resident of Los Angeles.
Domingo: I'm really chuffed to see the Lactation Room. I'm kidding - it's just strange that it's the first thing to pop up in your schedule. That makes me feel excluded, in a way.  In all seriousness, I don't normally plan my day until I see the schedule and listen to other attendees. Then I wander through, sometimes picking up ideas, sometimes not.

Q: What book or books that you’ve read over the last year would you most highly recommend?
Susan: I loved Department of Speculation (Jenny Offil); Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel); and I was knocked out by A God in Ruins by the incomparable Kate Atkinson.
Domingo: I'd really like to answer this with a title that blew me away, but because I was judging the Oregon State Book Awards, I'm not sure when they're releasing the names of the winners so I would hate to spoil it, but I can tell you this: when they do come out, the winner for non-fiction?  Wow.  Absolutely, WOW. Can't wait to read more from that author.

Q: Given how much time writers’ spend alone to practice their craft, what do you think are the advantages of creating the large community that exists at the AWP conference? 
Susan: Conferences, retreats, workshops, and gatherings are so important for writers. We all benefit from realizing that we're not alone in our lonely trade, and that it matters to keep doing it. Being reminded that you're part of a vibrant community buoys you along. And along the way, you learn things. You get inspired! It's win-win-win-win.
Domingo: The conference for me has always been more of a vehicle to keep in contact with my peers and a way to help keep one another bouyant, and productive.  It's a hard-point reality check in a business that built itself on ambiguity.  And let's face it: we're not the type of people who do well with ambiguity, by definition.

Q: What question that you’ve never been asked before would you like to ask yourself? And how would you answer that question?
: Q: Is that your natural hair color? A: Yes.

Q: Outside of the conference, what about Los Angeles are you looking forward to? Are there any Los Angeles activities you would recommend to conference attendees? 
Susan: Since I live here now, I'm looking forward to seeing it through the eyes of visitors once again. While downtown, I'd recommend visiting the LA Public Library, Grand Central Market, and Little Tokyo. I love the LaBrea Tar Pits and LACMA. If you can get to the beach, even for a brief visit, it's wonderful. Then cruise along Mulholland Drive and take in the view. You'll understand why this is a great place to live.


Susan OrleanSusan Orlean is the New York Timesbestselling author of five books of nonfiction, including The Orchid Thiefand Rin Tin Tin. A staff writer for theNew Yorker for more than twenty years, she has earned a reputation as one of America’s most distinctive journalistic voices for her deeply moving—and deeply humorous—explorations of American stories, both familiar and obscure. (Photo credit: Kelly Davidson)

Domingo MartinezDomingo Martinez is the New York Times best-selling author of The Boy Kings of Texas, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and was a gold medal winner of the Independent Publishers Book Award. The Boy Kings of Texas has been optioned by HBO through Salma Hayek’s production company, Ventanarosa. Martinez's work has appeared in many literary journals and publications, and he is a regular contributor to This American Life. He was the recipient of the Bernard De Voto Fellowship in Nonfiction at Bread Loaf, and was recently inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters. (Photo credit: Nicole Rule Photography)

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