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Brighde Mullins:This panel includes, on my immediate right, Lynell George, Hector Tobar, Naomi Hirahara, and Lisa See. The structure of the panel is that I'll just give you a very brief, extremelybio for each of the writes and then well post some questions to them and they all have so much to say that I'm sure at a certain point I will say nothing and we will just listen. Lisa See is a fifth generation California and a fourth generation Angelino. She's the New York Times Best-Selling Author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, Shanghai Girls, and Dreams of Joy. She has also written a mystery series that takes place in China, as well as On Gold Mountain, which is about her Chinese-American family. Her next novel, China Dolls, will be released by Random House in June 2014. She serves as a Los Angeles City Commissioner on the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Monument Authority. She was honored as National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese American Women in 2001 and was the recipient of the Chinese American Museums History Makers Award in Fall 2003. On her right, one her left, on my right is Naomi Hirahara. She is the author of the mystery series, which features a character based on her father, an LA-based gardener and Hiroshima survivor, which is a delightful series. The third in the series, Snakeskin Shamisen, won an Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Paperback Original. Murder on Bamboo Lane, the first in her new series with a young female multiracial LAPD bicycle copI feel like I see that character everyday in my neighborhood. I live downtown everydaywill be released in April. Her middle-grade book, 1001 Cranes, was awarded honorable mention in youth literature from the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association. She is former editor of The Rafy Shimpo newspaper and also written edited and published several nonfiction history books. She is currently co-writing a book on the lost communities of Terminal Island for Angel City Press. Hector Tobar is a Los Angeles-born writer and is the author of three books. Most recently, the novel, The Barbarian Nurseries, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and named a New York Times notable book. It also won the California Book Award Gold Medal for Fiction. For decades, Hector has worked for the Los Angeles Times as a city reporter, national and foreign correspondents on assignments from Alaska to Patagonia and from East Los Angeles to Iraq, and he was part of the reporting team that won the Pulitzer Prize for covered the LA Riots. He was the Times bureau chief in Buenos Aires in Mexico City. He's also the author of Translation Nation: Defining a New American Identity of Spanish-Speaking United States and the Tattooed Soldier. He's the father of three children. He's the son of Guatemalan, you know, immigrants. And Lynell George is an LA-based journalist, and essayist. She's currently an arts and culture columnist for KCETs Artbound. She's had a long career in LA journalism as staff writer for both the Los Angeles Times and L.A. Weekly focusing on social issues, human behavior and identity politics as well as visual arts, music and literature. She's taught journalism at Loyola Marymount and she is a fellow at the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities. Her work has appeared in many, many essay collections and she is the author of No Crystal Stair: African Americans in the City of Angels from Doubleday. So thats a very illustrious panel. Please help me welcome them. [Applause] Brighde Mullins:So when Bill and David put together this particular panel, they sent me this description and all the writers received this description, which open with a statement. Writers are from Los Angeles or they are not. Writers are at home here or they are in married forms exiles or exiled. How do ideas of nativity, naturalization and exile and foreign contemporary writers? And I was thinking around this. Are writers like plants? Do they thrive best in their native soil? Or are writers like cheeses? According to the British poet, W.H. Auden quoted, A poets hope is to be like some valley cheese, local, but priced elsewhere. I was born in North Carolina to Irish parents, so I, by birth, a Southerner and by ancestry, Irish. And for me, the test of a work of literature is an unparsable affection. And I think of the writing that I have truly loved. It would all include all ofand Flannery OConnor and Tennessee Williams and [???] all of whom are writing from a very distinctive place, the Americans house or Ireland. And so this reminds me of somethingbecame a writer when my roots crossed with my reading. So one thing I was thinking about is this relationship took place. What is it about writing from Los Angeles? What is it about your roots crossing with your reading in Los Angeles? What are the qualities of Los Angeles writing that you find in your own work or that youve absorbed from your own literary influences and other influences in California? So I guess I would first start with this general question about your relationship took place. We have with us, you know, people who are, you know, I feel like I know Los Angeles through Hectors writing in a way. I feel like I know Los Angeles from reading your different neighborhoods, your different backgrounds. So is that a good place to jump off. Hector, do you want to start us off with a response to that over for a bit? Hector Tobar:Well, to me, now as I get older, I sort of appreciate as I've traveled the world more and now even traveled with my book, with my latest book, I think that there's a California ethos that is incredibly open to new ideas and to diversity. I know that those of us who live here, you know, we tend to feel the divisions in the city. We feel the segregation in it. But when you go to other places where notions of class are more rigid and you come back to Los Angeles and you realize what a fluid place it is and how people have thisthis attitude, which I would, you know, I would sort of define it as kind of mellow ambition, you know. People are really ambitious but at the same time they're kind of cool about, you know. And so I think that thats really one of the defining things. I grew in a neighborhood, Little Armenians called now, it used to be called Hollywood then it was called East Hollywood. Now it's Little Armenia where I group with Filipino and Lebanese and Mexican and black and southern kids. My best friend is from Arkansas and there's something about a place where people are thrown together like that and my reading of Los Angeles history is that this is not anything new. I mean, this is something that began in the 19th century as we see in Lisas work and lots of history of 19th century Los Angeles. You know, you go to the plaza and there are 20 different ethnic groups that have a little piece of history in that place. And so I think that for me is really one of the defining things of Los Angeles and its literature, which is so diverse, it really even can't be defined I think, you know, Lisa See:Well, he just said it for all of us. I think we can all go home now. But I think you're right in that layering of, you know, at the plaza. You know, that whole are sort of stretches from Chinatown into Little Tokyo includes the plaza is one of the most ethnically diverse places on the planet and it has the native American people who you have Spanish, you have Mexican, you have Chinese, you have African American, you have the Italian, you know, we have a big Little Italy here and some of the remnants are still there and a new Italian American museum is going to be opening there later this year. French Town, the oldest Croatian church in the state is right there in Chinatown. So all about just in these few square blocks and you're absolutely right. People didn't always get along but we have sort of managed to live up against each other and sometimes in with each other overall pretty well, maybe better than other places. And just one other thing about the ambition, I actually called my editor this morning in New York. It's 7 o'clock my time, 10 o'clock their time. She wasnt there yet. So you know, they have a very different work ethic it seems to me. Naomi Hirahara:Thats happened to me too. Lisa See:Yeah, they think they're working so hard and it's Manhattan, you know, and I'm thinking, you're not at work yet? What's up with that? Brighde Mullins:They go out really late. Naomi Hirahara:But the weathers been bad too. So Brighde Mullins:Naomi, did you want to respond? Naomi Hirahara:It's kind offrom what you read, it just reminded me. My first novel, it took me 15 years in terms of inception to find no publication. And part of that time I spend working9 months I had a fellowship in Wichita, Kansas. And some peoplemy first book is very much LA. It starts off in Altadena, California. It goes to Little Tokyo, Gardena, Sawtelle area, and one person said to me that you'll understand what's really LA about your book or you'll really understand the place when you're away from it. And I found that was true that certain things in terms of since everything smells, I could smell it in Kansas a little bit better than here because you dont, you know, it's everywhere here so you dont know what you have until you go away. So thats one thing that came to my mind. Another thing that came to my mind too is growing up, you know. I always love to write as a kid and the things that influence me were like Lois Lenskis Strawberry Girl. You know, it's the southern, this Florida migrant worker and she spoke in this very strong southern dialect. And the other one was the series of novels in the lowerin New York, the tenement area, this Jewish family. I dont think they use that much Yiddish there but subsequently I picked up other books that had a lot of Yiddish. I think I didnt see that in California literature in terms of like, for me personally, like Japanese and you know, the Japanese Americans have been here since the 20th century. I wanted to infuse things I've seen modeled in terms of literature in other places in my work. Brighde Mullins:Makes a lot of sense. Lynell? Lynell George:Well, like Naomi, there are two things that you said that really resonate with me. One, is when I was living away from Los Angeles briefly when I was living in San Francisco, thats when I found that I was writing the most about LA in fiction. It was almost like I wanted toI missed it so I wanted it to make it grow up, you know, in the middle floor somewhere. But yeah, that sense memory, you know, the smells and the shade of the sun at a certain hour. I was trying to write that into being. And the other piece was living in a place where people didn't really understand Los Angeles. So I didn't want to be in this defensive mode of like, LA is really is a good place. I wanted to show people LA is a really beautiful, magical place. And so in these fiction writing workshops I was in, thats what I was doing but I was finding the people reallybut this doesnt seem like LAbut it wasnt the LA that they were expecting, which also lives into why I became a journalist. As Lisa knows, I took a magazine writing class from her mother when I was in college and I had turned in a piece about downtown Los Angeles that Caroline See was my teacher and she wrote at the bottom of the piece as my final project, This could be published. And I hadnt really thought about being a journalist, really. I just though, oh okay, and I put it away. But I didn't put the thought away, and I realized what she was responding to in the piece washow I was writing about these neighborhoods and this LA that she could see that existed on the page that didn't exist in the newspapers, stories I was reading. Like my neighborhood, I've grown up all over LA, the Crenshaw District and Culver City and near USC andthose neighborhoods, those multiracial neighborhoods in the newspaper you didn't read very much about. So I wanted to write those neighborhoods into beingto non-fiction and to journalism. So yeah, that was very important to have somebody say, Who knew? you know, I recognize this and it needs to be out there. Brighde Mullins:How do you combat some of thewhat are the myths of the literature? Not jus the image of Los Angeles but what are you inheriting as a Los Angeles writer? Lisa See:Well, so actually, my mother, again I'm going to bring her up. She wrote her dissertation on the Hollywood novel and she read, you know, 600 Hollywood novels. You know, that was a particular genre and that really was the literature of the west. For a very long time, it was certainly the most prolific literature of the west and you know, you can look at some of the sort of highbrow end of that things like, they shoot horses, dont they? But still, very, you know, very much about Hollywood and producers and young women come, you know, the day of the locust, people coming here with this dream. But I actually think that there's something else that happens with writers here, which again as sort of this historical thing that isand I'm bringing up my mother again, something that writers of her generation who really started writing particularly women in the 1960s that according to that little island back east, Manhattan, they're actually were no writers beyond the river, you know. They didn't exist. There was, you know, it's like that old New Yorker cartoon. And so I think thatand I know my mother whos spoken about this. But I feel this myself very strongly that being outside of that system is actually more important than being outside of the Hollywood system and sort of breaking past that barrier for writers, the kind of writers that we are is much more important. Lynell George:Breaking out of the New York literary. Lisa See:Well, I dont think we havewe certainly dont have the same culture of that New York literary culture. We dont have that. We dontwe have to fight against not so much now but I think there's sort of history of fighting against of that whole idea of, you know, they're brainless, they're fluffed, you know, it's Hollywood. And that also, you know, writers like us are really just failed screenwriters. I mean, there's just a whole list of things that you could do that are sort of stereotypes about what the New York publishing business think or thought. And still I think to some level thinks about writers out here. You know, were not all going out and having lunch with various editors and were not going out and having our weekends out wherever they have their weekends. You know, we dont do that. Were actually out here doing our work. But because were out of that, I think it allows us whether it's here or in San Francisco or Montana or Colorado to really write about our own place and to write about what were interested in that is quite separate from that sort of New York but also European literary tradition. Brighde Mullins:Yeah, thats interesting. Lynell. Lynell George:Well, one of things I have dealt with, both in the newsroom and then both in trying to do larger projects is whenever I'm trying to really tell an LA story, something that really feels rooted in place, I'll get back from a New York editor. That doesnt seem like LA to me or it's the one thatmy favorite one was oh that's too coastaland I'm like, what does that mean? But it's, because we deal with fluidity of identity for example. Like, you know, identity may shiftshape shift. So what does that mean if you're not black or white or, you know, you're dealing with people who grew up in neighborhoods that were vividly mixed. And so theyve taken all of these different attributes. But that doesnt fit my definition of what LA is. So you're kind of really pushing, you know, against this a lot. There is aI wish I could remember the name of the memoir. It may come to me but it was a memoir that came out that wasyou might remember this, Hector, white woman who claimed that she had been running with the bloods and she was selling drugs in Comptonokay, the whole thingso I was being pitched to the story, you know. You can hangout with her for the day, you know, turn around in Compton with her and my editor said, and I took it over to her and I said, I'm not sure about this and my editor said, Yeah, this doesnt smell right to me. Well, of course the next day it turned out the whole thing was made up. But she was able to hoodwinked all these editors from back east because they didn't really understand Los Angeles-- Brighde Mullins:Thats your story Lynell. Lynell George:[Laughs] And it was a pretty amazingit was an amazing because I kept thinking again this isif this was an LA editor, they would've known this was not true. So there's that too. Naomi Hirahara:I totally agree with you and I think thatsthere's a pro side. I mean, I guess you put a positive spin on it. But I there'sI think a challenge too for people whofrom the west to write about the west and also were not part of that inner circle, you know. We dont live in New York. We dont have relatives that work forI think a lot of especially young writers dont know how to get into that publishing world from, you know, from this coast. Yeah, it's a big challenge and while certain things like even Hollywood has decentralized, filmmaking has decentralized. I think TV is still here but I think publishing, even though we have independent publishers and all that. I think pretty much is still very New York eccentric. Brighde Mullins:But I wonder, is there something regional about Los Angeles writing that you can identify? I mean, Lisa talked about the Hollywood novel. We havewe also have this, you know, I think the talk on Gertrude Stein was this morning, but this kind of experimental landscape that happens. Lynell talked about the senses and when I first moved here, I felt like an advent calendar, like all my little doors opened up. It's like, Oh I can smell things. Someone said once about gloomy day in Cambridge. These are the days that made English literature possible. So there are these set of conditions in Los Angeles that has to do with the weather, the place, what drew people here, all of that that goes into it. But do you think there is a regional quality Hector Tobar:Right. Yeah, there's the other side, which is the isolation, you know, because we live in this place where, you know, we all know each other but out paths dont cross in the same caf, you know. A Parisian writer, you know, Cortazar run into whoever he, you know, Richard write in some cafs some place. These grates of American literature, American defined is you know, a larger way. But here, you know, were also isolated from each other and that is something that does. You see that in LA literature going all the way back to Fontaine who writes about this incredible loneliness, you know. And to me thats the other side of what I notice when I come back to Los Angeles when I've been away is how there is this hyperindividualism in Los Angeles. So someone from the Midwest will know their neighbors, right, theyll know who their neighbors are. You can live in the same block in Los Angeles for 20 years and not know your neighbor other than waving to them for, you know, 15 seconds every morning, you know. And so those two things together, you know. The sort of openness and this possibility and yet this isolation and individualism, to me, those are kind of defining things. To live in a place where everything is possible, where, you know, at one point, they were building new freeways but really where you just want to go and you know, go to your house and close the door and have your swimming pool in the back, you know. And that tension to me is sort of what defines California, the California ethos, the California experience. Naomi Hirahara:I guess I have a different view of LA and I think it's more personal because I'm part of a community, you know, it's not 6 degrees of separation. It's like, 3 degrees. So you have to really watch what you do around here. And there was a talk about at what point do you become a Los Angelino? I dont know which onemaybe Gertrude Stein. I think it's 10 years, you know, a decade. If youve been here around a decade, maybe people with kind of trust you. But I think that's the weird thing. Yeah, you're right. There's this isolation in what was the freeways, what was discussed about architecture and were on all in our little private cars doing our own little thing. I mean, thats there but then there's this intense connected, rooted communities that are really deep. So I havent figured it out. I just know that they exist and there's also the separation of language because there's all these parallel universes going on and I knowI dont know if David Ulin is still here but I know he loves this book on Lament in the Night, right? Written by this Japanese immigrant worker in the 19I think was it 20s or 30s? 1920s and he wrote this serial for this newspaper I used to work at. Obviously I wasnt working there at that time it was published but I had no idea. I mean, I read Japanese but not that well. So there's this literary tradition that was going on in the 1920s and I'm sure it was happening in the Spanish speaking communities. I'm sure it's happening and all these communities you just mentioned that we have no idea was there. So in a weird way, I think here in the 21st century, these young multilingual, you know, geniuses, these people in their 30s, they're going back, you know, 100 years later and retrieving this for us and were kind of, you know, now reinterpreting what is this LA literary tradition. It may be different than we perceive it to me. It might go beyond Raymond Chandler. It might be, you know, a lot different. Lynell George:Oh just also to get connecting with that is I was thinking about the writing of Walter Mosleys where he's writing about especially in the early books, a certain very specific black Los Angeles, which reflected the black LA that I grew up in, in the sense that it was very southern. And Id have people from the East Coast comeAfrican Americans from the East Coast comingIt's like being in the south here. you know, and it really was because it'sthings are ranged around rituals from the south. So, you know, your Sunday dinner was a certain kind of dinner. And then depending upon where you were from the south, my moms from New Orleans. So the kind of southern food I ate was very different from my friends who were from Mississippi or from Texas but we all knew those rituals and in those communities, we all knew one another and it was really important to keep those southern traditions going. And so every summer you went back south and you came back to LA and you told those stories. So that became part of our narrative here in LA and that became part of that LA story of those neighborhoods. Naomi Hirahara:I'm helping to write this book on Terminal Island and this was a community that actually the city created and it's about commerce and we havent really talked about commerce in terms of the city but I think it's pretty important. And then all these canaries came in and there were 2000 Japanese Americans working there. And then World War II comes and the navy takes it over and it's gone, you know, and all the people are gone and I thinkI dont want to be so ethnic specific but I have to say that experience in the 20th century, I thinkif were talking about California, the West Coast, that was a seminal event that didn't happen in other places as much. There were some moveand I think, you know, I'm sure there are echoes of that in histories with other people, you know. I think thats worth looking at and seeing. Brighde Mullins:I wonder if you could talk unless there's something else thats brewing, Lisa about this idea of research and community and inheritance because that seems to be a large part of your experience. Lisa See:I was thinking about something that Naomi said and you know, the removal of Japanese Americans and you know, how these communities disappear and change and evolve and I knowI mean, just having heard you speak so many times. Weve been on a lot of programs put together and I've read many of your books that I think for you and for me sometimes there's a kind of nostalgia for a place and for people who are no longer here and a Los Angeles that is no longer here. And so, you know, I think of, for me, it would be Chinatown and not the sort of new but now has a sign that says Old, thats how old I am. I remember I used to say New Chinatown but okay. You know, that was like, already like the fourth Chinatown in LA. And you know, we had these land laws here in California. If you were Chinese, you couldnt own property. If you were quarter Chinese, you couldnt own property in the state until 1948. And there were laws for other groups of people and I'm sure many of you here if you look at your deeds and you will still see those oldrestrictive covenants, not the house I live in now but the house we lived in before it said we could sell our house to anyone of Ethiopian, Mongolian orI can't remember what the third one was descent. And it was just like, well, you know, okay. So that was a time and that meant that people had to live in a certain community. You could not live out. You couldnt go to school out. You couldnt work out of that community. And then after 1948, people started to be able to move, but that didn't mean that you could do it right away. So, you know, a lot of people in my family, they went to the Silver Lake area. Well now, those people, I'm really sorry to say are dying off. So Silver Lake is really changing now, you know. It's just completely changing. It doesnt have that same sort of old Chinese feel to it. And if you look at what's now called Old Chinatown, all of those families, you know, most of them are dying off to they're getting too old. They dont want to run their shop or caf or restaurant anymore. And guess what? Their kids and grandchildren got to go and become doctors and lawyers. So they dont have to run the shop. So now you see this huge influx of young artists and galleries. So for me, you know, when I go to those places, I really feel like I'm seeing buildings that eitheror I'm not seeing them, you know, are no longer there, people who are no longer there, and that sense of these places especially just being literally wiped off the physical map of the city. So much of my work and my writing, you know, has been about going and finding people, you know, who may of all owned those shops and may have owned those restaurants in trying to catch them, or you know, they're gone but maybe their sons and daughters are alive and they're, you know, even in their 70s, 80s, and 90s and try to capture those stories before they're wiped off the map of memory. Brighde Mullins:So part of this definition of a Los Angeles writer and might be this like, witnessing and interpreting inherited stories and just while you're speaking about these, what comes out of certain atrocitiesthe work of everyat the base of every work ofis a heap of barbarisms and that idea that thenthat layering, that building up around it, the way that language and story and character make that live on in a different way. Lynell, did you have something brewing? Lynell George:I was thinkingit's like a collage thats going on in my head. When Hector was saying about the 5 houses that you lived in and Lisas talking about, you know, gracing and it's does to me to catch these memories and these stories and I feel like a lot of my work is about trying to get to the elder before the elder gets sick or before the elders memory fails. The person thats got that last story, you know, that I want to get because, you know, my role especially as a journalist, I feel it's, you know, this is record. You know, I wanted to be able to talk to that person because they will die with that story and there'sso there's that. I've been thinking about with Hector, with the 5 houses. I was thinking about thisyou can always tell you're speaking to an Angelino when they start a sentence, Well, I live near where what used to bewell, you remember like two places ago, it used to be this. Oh I dont know what it's called now but it used to be this and thats how it works here. It's like, it's so fluid, it changes so quickly. You have toI feel like I have to remember all of those former places one building-wise. You know, the 5 things it was, depending on who I'm speaking to, and thats an essential part of our story as well because it changes so frequently and so quickly. So thats always on my mind too. Hector Tobar:Yeah, I think also, one thing I like to add is I dont think we really appreciate as much all the commonalities there are in our stories that have brought us here because I think that were all basically the product of ambitious working people from rural places more or less, be that Louisiana or in China or Guatemala in my case. And you know, there's a certain kind of human type that came here, you know. The person, limited means but really ambitious hardworking. He was the oddball in the family, you know, and then his brother stayed back home and he had this sort of life that, you know, the typical lifeI'm thinking of my father and my uncle, you know, two very, very different people from the same mother and you know, that story, that coming here, it's this incredible epic journey and they all came to the brightest, newest place in the planet, you know. I mean, this is like, when I think of the march of western civilization across the globe, this is the last new place, you know. And after thiswell, there's Hawaii but it doesnt really count. You know, in this march across the continent, this is the last new place and you knowthey created it, you know, from all these different places that they came from and it's a pretty remarkable story. That is undertold I think also in American literature. Naomi Hirahara:In terms of history and recent history, one thing I'm wondering about and I may be wrong, but I lived in an eraI lived in Pasadena when it became desegregated and I think that era in the 70s, 60s, 70s, you know, 50s, there's seem to be more integration to me. Hector Tobar:Yes. Naomi Hirahara:You know, racial and economic and I think were kind of losing that and thats sad. And it was my husband whos also Japanese American. He's says he's Okinawan and American but anyway, he lived in Boyle Heights, and he says that he relates to Latinos more than Asians. But he's more comfortable around Latinos than Asians but Latinos are not comfortable with him. So I think thats really interesting and it's almost like our story like, we feel more comfortable with other people, people you might not imagine. But looking at it, she might not think that. So it's like our secret identities. Hector Tobar:Well, I think what's happened is that, working class life used to be integrated in the United States, not just in LA but like Bronx for example. There would be all these groups that came together. And now in LA, it's middle class or upper middle class life thats integrated. You go to ansoccer game in South Pasadena and every ethnicityit's like the United Nations, you know. Because the middle class has made an effort to sort of integrate itself and its institutions and the schools recruit from all the different communities, but working class people, they made the parts of LAI think I added up once for the LA Times when I was a columnist. There are a million people living in one contiguous place in center of LA thats 95% Latino. You know, so yes, there is a defect of segregation. AndIve heard oral histories of the place of the 70s was an incredibly integrated neighborhood, which is less so today. Naomi Hirahara:Yeah, and economically too. I think now there's just such a fear of your children like touching children of another, you know, for their own safety perhaps. I dont know. But back then, you know, we mixed more. It wasnt that fear andthats regardable. Brighde Mullins:Yeah. Fear seems to be a very common experience these days. This idea of, you know, just looking back over this conversation that weve had, the elements that maybe constitute a contemporary, regionaland I mean that in the best sense of the word, literature, where it's coming out of a specific place at a specific time. Do you think there are literary choices or aesthetic or craft choices that you make that reflect that? Hector Tobar:I think there's a sense here of the built environment as a spectacle because it can be obliterated and changed very, very quickly. Even the natural landscape, you know. We have now this wholeit's always changing. Now we have this curse or blessing, depending on your point of view of the feral parrots in many corners of LA, you know. And to me it's driving me crazy because I'm native Angelino and they're louder than the sparrows and the mockingbirds and I want to just exterminate them, you know, until I talked to the leading bird expertsyou know, there's nothing natural. Nothing native anymore in California and he's like, the bird expert, you know. But there's a sense of the builtI think everything in LA isI think were in tuned with that you can shape the physical environment around you even if it's your home, you know, and LA neighborhoodyou know, you think of a British working class neighborhood and you think of those rows of, you know, brick houses and whatever. But in LA, you can go to a working class neighborhood like in South LA today, and youve got one guy whos painted his wall pink and another one is turquoise and the other one is a crack house, you know, there's everything all mixed up together and, you know, there's a lot less push towards conformity in terms of the built up landscapes. So I think that that is definitely, all of that sort of crazy freedom that everyone seems to thinks is their right, which I guess it is. You know, people have really internalized that and you sort of feel that around you. So I think an LA writers probably more open to that sense of amazing possibility, I don't know. Naomi Hirahara:I think for me personally, its language that I could claim certain words andthat would definitelyand still people think of it as being other but I think if I lived on the other coast it would definitely, you know, be other and they would probably force me to put a glossary. SoI don't know. Thats the thing that comes to mind to me. Lynell George:You know, I'm with about language. I'm fascinated with the way people speak and Iin particular and I was talking to another writer who was telling me how he had turned in a short story and his instructor turned it back to him and said, the problem is, you got this guy, he's from Watts and he speaks Spanish but the slang is wrong, this is east LA Spanish slang and you got to fix that because nobodys going to like, really believe you. And it's true, people are reading at that level and I hadyou know, you forget sometimes. If you get that small thing wrong, they lose you. So I'm always fascinated in and this is why I transcribe everything because especially, again, older people who still can speak, their native language, the slang from that period as well, I want that. I want that because that is to me like those are thethats the shading and the color that you want in stories. So I use that for my non-fiction and it's going to get slipped to my fiction as well. Brighde Mullins:Right. Well, we only have a few minutes left. So I love to hear what each of you is working on now just like really briefly, maybe how being an Angelino is influencing your current project. Hector, do you want to start? Hector Tobar:[Laughs] Well, I'm working on a book that has nothing to do with Los Angeles. It is theit's a non-fiction novel. It s a non-fiction book about the Chilean miners who were trapped for 69 days in Chile and I got to write there. It was sort of an exclusive story. I would say the one thing that really is an LA influence is that I just made my career here as a journalist listening to working people and so I got to listen to these 33 working guys and their families, talk about this experience of being buried alive and then being rescued and just learning here to listen and respect working people, it definitely influenced that book and it comes out in the Fall from FSG. It's going to be called, Deep, Down, Dark. Brighde Mullins:Naomi? Naomi Hirahara:I think I already mentioned, I have a new mystery series with a multiracialyeah, female bicycle cop in downtown LA. And it's just fun, and I think this goes back to the discussion of playfulness in LA. You know, it's not deep literature but it's fun. I think it kind of, you know, we saw the stuff weve been talking about young people claiming public places and taking public transportation and, you know, riding bicycles and all that and I thinkfun is underrated so. Brighde Mullins:And that is a kind of character that could exist only in LA-- Naomi Hirahara:I think youve seen that, right? Brighde Mullins:would knockout someone in San Francisco. But I'm also thinking of this David Hockney painting of a swimming pool and written across it is Surface is illusion but so is depth. Lisa, did you have a-- Lisa See:I have a new novel coming out on June 3rd. It's called China Dolls and it's about the Chinese American nightclub performers of the 1930s and 40s. Most of it takes place in San Francisco where there were many, many clubs there. A portion of it takes place in Los Angeles and then at the end it's in New York in a nightclub called The China Doll. And just a few days ago, I started writing the outline for the next book, The Fox Spirit of Hummingbird Lane, about in Hunan Province, there's a particular kind of tea that is grown there and it is the oldestit is the birthplace of tea. And this area is a biodiversity hotspot in the world and so there's a woman who gives birth, gives that baby up for adoption and I think of that baby as just a piece of pollen floating across the pacific and landing here in Pasadena and so the second half of the novel is Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley. Brighde Mullins:Thank you. Lynell? Lynell George:And very briefly, I'm working on a project about creativity and chance. And part of what's so interesting is like, a lot of the people I'm talking to are either Angelinos or Californians. I have to break out and do other people. But because there is this fluidness and this openness to, you know, take advantage of these intersections and chance meetings and create something new out of them. So this is actually been a really interesting place to be working in because a lot of peoplethey're just sort of making it up as they go along and there's an openness to that here. Brighde Mullins:Great. Well, this has been really fascinating for me to moderate not one, not, two, but three and four very distinguish writers is nervous-making. So I want to thank all of you. I look forward to your next works and I'm sure that there will be time for people to see you in the lobby but I just want to thank Bill Deverell and David Ulin and Louise Steinman at the library for giving us this opportunity to talk about Los Angeles writing. So thank you. [Applause]