Reflecting on the Tucson Festival of Books

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TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — If you came to the Tucson Festival of Books last weekend, you might have seen the huge 7-day forecast, or even picked up a magnetic bookmark from the folks at KGUN Tent 9. This What you might not have noticed is the magic of connecting with our community and finding common ground.

My name is Brooke and I am the executive producer of KGUN 9. I worked on the stand for two hours on Saturday and two hours on Sunday. Those four hours were long enough to establish a new normal in my mind.

For more than two years, seeing large groups of people interacting with each other caused anxiety in me. I was afraid they would catch the virus, or me, and then pass it on to a vulnerable family member. This was not the case at the Tucson Festival of Books.

For some reason, those thousands of people strolling through the University of Arizona Mall gave me a sense of security rather than jitters. It made me feel like things were now as they had always been, even though I know that’s not true.

Throughout the festival, I met people from all walks of life. A little girl with a heavy Aussie accent actually said, “I don’t like Batwoman,” when I tried to get her a temporary tattoo. She took Black Lightning instead. His brother wanted Batwoman and Supergirl, so that’s what he got. None of them wanted magnetic bookmarks.

We caught up with Tom and Vaughan who said they’ve been fans of the channel for years. Former KGUN employee “Big Al” even gave Vaughan a tour at the time.

In just four hours at the festival, I shook hands, bumped elbows and fists, and spoke with people face to face for the first time in a few years. It was a very invigorating experience that really made me feel more connected to our community.

Towards the end of our time at the festival, a man came to our booth as a huge CW fan. I was thrilled to give away some of our Nancy Drew bookmarks with the tassels on them. I made my deepest connection when his wife joined in the conversation.

Tanya D. Dawson is a young adult author who worked in the defense field. She came to the stand to grab some branded loot, including some extra Nancy Drew bookmarks. Dawson Andersen’s book Light had already caught my attention.

She explained the novel as “light YA (young adult) fiction” as opposed to “dark YA fiction”.

Her personality immediately made me understand what she meant by that. Dawson is the nicest, most genuine person I have ever met. His eyes shone and his smile shone from the freelance writer’s booth just behind ours.

We talked for a long time, where I learned about his background, the books and the family that inspired his writings.

She revealed that her sister Paula was inspired Anderson lamp.

I bought Dawson’s book and we ended our interaction with a hug. It’s the first non-family hug I’ve had since the start of the pandemic. Now, a few chapters later, I can really see the connection between her bright perspective and the darker world she obviously knows intimately.

Read about Georgie, the main character of Light Anderson, I feel the same connection I had with Tanya (although I think Georgie is based on Tanya’s late sister). Each chapter begins with an image of a Metatron’s Cube – a tattoo that takes up most of my right bicep.

It’s now been a few days since the festival and I’ve been thinking a lot about Dawson, the Aussie kids, Tom and Vaughan. These are 5 people I would never have met while looking at the phone in my apartment. At this point, who knows if I’ll like Dawson’s book or stay in touch with her. I may never see Tom and Vaughan again.

But during those four hours at the Tucson Festival of Books, I was reminded why people love each other and why I love people.

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Brooke Long is an executive producer for KGUN 9 via Wichita Falls, Texas, where she worked at KFDX-TV. Brooke graduated from Midwestern State University in 2014 where she studied journalism and television production. Share your story ideas and important issues with Brooke via email [email protected] or by connecting to Twitter.

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