Book festival to delight lovers of all things literary Oct. 30-Nov. 2

Bookworms, your moment is about to arrive. The 12th annual Vegas Valley Book Festival is slated to take place Oct. 30-Nov. 2, with most programs scheduled at the Historic Fifth Street School, 401 S. Fourth St.

The festival is the largest annual literary event in Las Vegas and is expected to feature more than 165 authors and 100 events, including 45 panel discussions, four keynote speakers, readings, book signings, workshops, vendor exhibits, art exhibitions, spoken-word and dance performances, children’s activities and other special programs for a diversity of genres, ages and cultural backgrounds. Most events are free and open to the public. For the full schedule, visit

Some Las Vegas authors are scheduled to participate. Pj Perez created “The Utopian,” a comic series that debuted about five years ago. He is set to take part in “Rock Out With Your Wacom Out” from 1 to 1:50 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Clark County Library’s Jewel Box Theater, 1401 E. Flamingo Road. The event is part of the festival’s comic component.

“There’s a unique appeal in the marriage of the narrative text and images that, unlike say film or TV, you still get to create your own pace, similar to a book,” Perez said, “whereas with a book, you have to visualize (everything ) in your head. With a comic book, you’re given the visuals, but you still have to piece together the action.”

He said there’s still a stigma around comic books because when some people hear the term, they automatically think of super heroes — Spider-Man, Superman, Batman — but there are countless genres within the comic book world.

“A lot of people consume other types of media these days, particularly movies and TV, without realizing that the source material was a comic or graphic novel,” Perez said.

He offered examples including “Road to Perdition,” “Men in Black,” “Human Target,” “The Losers” and “V for Vendetta.” When he writes, Perez said he keeps in mind that his primary intent is to tell a good story and allow his characters to speak for themselves.

In five years, he said, the comic book market will only get bigger.

Las Vegas Review-Journal opinion columnist Steve Sebelius is slated to take part in the “Meet the Authors of Las Vegas Writes” panel discussion scheduled from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Nov. 2 in the Historic Fifth Street School’s auditorium. He has covered the Nevada Legislature and local politics, policy and the activities of Nevada’s congressional delegation since 1995. His job requires understanding the political playing field.

“You have to know the players, and you have to know the people involved,” Sebelius said. “And most importantly, you have to understand those people. It’s not just them telling you who did what to whom. It’s figuring out why they’re telling you that and why that someone did what to whom.”

He said would-be political reporters would best be served by majoring in something such as political science, history, English literature or liberal arts.

“Something that gives you a broad background,” Sebelius said. “… I would take a minor in journalism because journalism will teach you ‘how’ to communicate something to the public, put something out on an iPad or record an interview on an iPhone and how to put sentences together, but it won’t give you anything ‘to’ communicate to the public.”

Speaking of new technology, he said the world of the written word is rapidly changing.

“For me, the saddest thing in the world is to see bookstores close,” Sebelius said. “It literally brings tears to my eyes.”

Las Vegas author Deborah Coonts is scheduled to be part of the festival’s “Love, Murder and Mayhem: Popular Fiction” panel scheduled from 10 to 11 a.m. Nov. 2 in YA Tent One at the Historic Fifth Street School. She wrote for 15 years and had three completed manuscripts before getting a book contract. Why did she think her book series character Lucky O’Toole caught the eye of a publisher?

“He told me he really liked Lucky,” she said. “It’s a very character-driven story, and the voice is very important, and it’s … fun, and it’s Vegas.”

Writing a series means each new book shows growth in the character, she said.

“With a series, not only do I have certain arcs for certain characters with each book, but I also have a whole character arc for the whole series,” Coonts said. “I know where Lucky started and where she’s going and how her relationships are going to change over time.”

The challenge, Coonts said, was that her series is written in first person, which can be limiting. It prevents showing the protagonist as he’s plotting to “do in” the main character. Pacing the story is another challenge.

“There’s an ebb and flow to (the plot),” she said. “You can’t have all of it be action, otherwise it’s just one big car chase through Las Vegas.”

She said she’s always thinking a couple of books ahead so that she doesn’t write Lucky into a dark alley from which she can’t escape.

For more information about the book festival, call 702-229-5902.

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at or 702-387-2949.