We can’t bring you an in-person Festival experience in 2020, but we can stay connected by bringing you literary news, interviews, and dispatches that will hopefully help alleviate the loneliness and tedium of social distancing for our beloved Bay Area community.

Our first reflection comes from Festival friend, bestselling fiction writer, and San Francisco Chronicle columnist Vanessa Hua, author of, most recently, Deceit and Other Possibilities.

At the 2020 Fest, Vanessa was slated to speak on “Wordy Sanctuary: The Crafty Solidarity of Writing Communities,” a panel celebrating the San Francisco Writers Grotto and the Squaw Valley Writers Conference. She was also slated to moderate “What Kind of World? Raising Kids in an Age of Climate Crisis.”

1. What do you feel most compelled to do right now, individually, as a fiction writer? As a journalist?

I’ve been consumed with taking care of my family, home-schooling my twin sons for the foreseeable future, caring for my elderly mother whom we live with, trading shifts with my husband, and working late. We’re trying to seek out comfort however we can, and to find out ways to share that comfort. I’ve been in constant communication with friends and colleagues, checking in with them and having virtual hangouts, and supporting those without a safety net. As a fiction writer, I’ve been trying to finish revisions on my novel-in-progress, and though I’m very distracted, those moments of immersion have never felt more precious. As a journalist, I’ve been thinking about way to cover the pandemic, that would serve my community and my readers. I have so many ideas for pitches but don’t have the will or time to pursue all of them right now.

2. As an author whose new book had a March 10, 2020 publication date, you’re in a tough position—in addition to everything else you’re dealing with! In spite of it all, have you seen, witnessed, or experienced anything since this whole situation began that has strengthened your faith in humanity, or made you feel hope?

Fellow authors began reaching out to me directly through social media or posting online with offers to help. A British author, Madeline Dyer, began hosting #BookPartyChat via her Twitter account @BookPartychat. That hour I spent tweeting with other authors was such a respite. Mutual aid is happening all over, in the ways that people are reaching out to the vulnerable or supporting local businesses. A big thanks to BABF for holding this space for for authors, and we’re looking forward to the festival when it returns!

3. Is there a favorite local indie bookstore or local small business you’d especially like people to support during this time?

Consider ordering, pre-ordering, and getting gift certificates from your favorite local booksellers, many whom are offering shipping deals. My favorites include Booksmith, City Lights, Green Apple, East Bay Booksellers in Oakland, and Orinda Books—but all of them could use your support now.