2019 Writers Comments
The Rancho Mirage Writers Festival is a marvelous conclave of writers and readers, with presentations and conversations as varied as the human experience. For an author, it’s a treat to mingle with other authors, but the greatest gratification is to spend time with such thoughtful, committed readers.
Writers invited to speak at festivals don’t only want to be heard; they want to listen too — and I can’t remember being as spoiled for choice in terms of talks and panels as I was at Rancho Mirage this year. In every way, it was a wonderfully stimulating three days. And great fun too!
It strikes me that you now have the most starry and invigorating list of writers I’ve ever seen gathered in one place — politicians, pundits, travelers, historians and wonderful actors. You also have far and away the most distinguished audience members, so experienced and engaged and sharp. But what you also offer us is definitely the most well-organized, thoughtful, seamless — and glamorous and elegant — celebration of words and ideas any of us is ever likely to encounter. I’ve been traveling to literary festivals for thirty years now, and often to ones in this country that look similar to this, but I’ve never found one to match yours for entertainment, stimulation, sophistication and comfort.
Rancho Mirage is a Writers Festival unlike any other the world over. Not just because everybody smiles — authors, readers, technicians, helpers and organisers — but because it is so stimulating, forcing everyone to reflect on the role of history in the world today. New ideas, thoughts and stories were buzzing around the whole time. It’s a triumph of organisation and sorcery and I loved every minute.
The Rancho Mirage Writers Festival is brilliantly organized and executed — satisfying in every way, stimulating, pleasurable and enlightening. The best one I’ve ever attended.
The Rancho Mirage Writers Festival sparkles, a rare treat for the authors and readers alike. From start to finish it is a movable feast of ideas and people, enriched by some of the nation’s finest minds and writers. Rarely has the written word been celebrated with such justice or verve as here, in sunny California. It is fast becoming an event without peer.
2019 festival comments
Nancy and Michael Basofin
Though we have been spending winters in the desert for 15 years, 2019 was our first Writers Festival. We are signed up for 2020 and plan on attending every year. Not a single session that either of us attended was disappointing. Not only were the authors/speakers great but the event was very well organized. We are avid readers and the 2020 roster is full of familiar (and some new) authors. We can only imagine the amount of work that you and colleagues devote to the Festival. Thank you very much for all you do.
I had never been to a Literary Festival before so I had no idea what to expect from it… For me the really interesting moments were the discussions and seminars with the reporters like Bret Stephens and Anne Applebaum and the amazing Garry Kasparov, all of who spoke clearly, well and vibrantly about their subjects.
2018 Writers Comments
RMWF is an important cultural event and probably the best run writers festival in the country today. It has quickly become a ‘must attend’ for the top authors of fiction and nonfiction.
Intimate and magical, Rancho Mirage is the best place to meet America’s most dazzling writers. Find “Rancho Mirage Writers Festival” under the Oxford English Dictionary listings for “inspiration” and “friendship.”
This is the swankiest writers festival ever.
Mike and I are still basking in the glow of the best writers festival anywhere in the world. You two have wrought a miracle in the desert.
The Rancho Mirage Writers Festival was an inspiring exchange of ideas on the important cultural and political issues in our society from an impressive and diverse array of individuals. I was moved by the perspective brought by many writers who I don’t intersect with in political circles and felt lucky to be included.
RMWF is a first rate festival with some of the best literary minds. It’s an annual source of inspiration.
Richard North Patterson
I’ve attended many writers’ conferences. But never one more vibrant, welcoming, inclusive and filled with such a variety of interesting and accessible writers from all branches of literature. The major problem is figuring out what panel to attend in any given hour, as there are so many good ones. The discussions are so stimulating for the audience, I think, because they are so much fun for the writers. Everyone goes away happy.
The Rancho Mirage Writers Festival is a unique and unforgettable experience that will stay with me for a long time. Three days of fabulous Southern California sunshine, a lovely hotel, and numerous social opportunities to meet and engage with informed and enthusiastic readers and other authors. What more could any writer wish for?
My deep thanks for inviting me to participate in this year’s festival. You have all created something quite beautiful and rare, and I feel truly honored to have been a part of it. Having a chance to interact with curious, lively, engaged readers and to get to know such a wide range of fascinating writers was the perfect coda to the sometimes lonely experience of writing a book. And in such an array of gorgeous settings! Devora and I will be talking about our experience for years to come.
Sally Bedell Smith
What an honor and pleasure it was to participate in the 5th Rancho Mirage Writers Festival. Everything was superbly organized by your top tier team, who were as congenial and welcoming as they were efficient and creative. One of the best parts of a Writers Festival, as you well know, is getting to know authors informally over breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We made new friends and caught up with pals. You also turned out the most wonderful audience—so engaged and inquisitive and supportive. That of course is why writers festivals exist: to share and celebrate the written word. Thank you, Jamie, for making that happen so successfully.
2018 festival comments
I just wanted to express my gratitude and appreciation, on behalf of the students (Galante Scholars — Jenetta Grace and Gavin Wessman) and myself, for the great privilege and pleasure of attending the 2018 Rancho Mirage Writer’s Festival. It definitely remains a highlight of the year and in the lives of all of us.
We immensely enjoyed all of the sessions and felt privileged to be in the company of so many well-known and respected writers as well as the intelligent exchange of ideas and debate as they discussed their work(s). It is, indeed, incredible to consider our time there (esp. meeting writers like Bret Stephens, Karl Rove, Greg Iles, and John Meacham).
We all remain honored and indebted with gratitude for the invitation to attend the Festival and wanted to be sure to convey our appreciation for the privilege of attending. You might consider us all ambassadors of the RMWF for the words of praise and glowing descriptives used in relaying our experience(s) at this year’s event.
Mary Lou H. Solomon
So interesting that when you see “snippets” or “teasers” of different conversations you really have no idea where the panels/speakers are going in these clips. Such as: I had no idea Karl Rove had a sense of humor and has a mind like a steel trap; Amie Parnes was so down to earth about her book “Shattered” about Hillary Clinton and knowledgeable about so much else; and Dave Barry was himself — and had people in the palm of his hand as they laughed every minute he was on stage. All of this is due to our esteemed and brilliant leader Jamie Kabler, who chooses the topics and authors. Thank you again, Jamie. Cannot wait to watch the what I missed!
How can I thank you for my wonderful three days at Rancho Mirage and the best book festival I’ve ever attended? It should be called “The Festival of Books and Ideas.”
For me, it was a succession of happy surprises into the minds and contemporary opinions of a variety of authors, a number of whom I knew personally and a number now I want to know. Laughter via Dave Barry and Sally Bedell Smith complemented serious history and politics. Scott Berg, Karl Rove, Bret Stephens, Scott Turow, Jon Meacham, Viet Thanh Ngyuyen and Dr. Khoi Le—and Geoff Cowan and Susan Eisenhower as facilitators—were special. Breakfast with Alexandra Fuller and Danzy Senna, dinner with Ric Patterson and Linda Fairstein ditto, complimented your delightful social gatherings.
I watch the videos of the talks I missed and watch again my favorite talks.
2017 FESTIVAL AUTHOR COMMENTS
Sentator Barbara Boxer
The Writers Festival is a stimulating, thought-provoking event that brings many points of view together from talented writers and participants at a time when we need to hear each other more than ever.
I simply can’t get over the elegance, the lavishness, the generosity and the real sense of passion that animates your Festival and lights up all of us who become part of it. From the level of attentiveness in taking care of every last detail to the deeply informed, engaged and knowledgeable people in the audience, all of whom have such stories and insights to add (as evidenced in the exceptional level of questions from the floor); the fact that so many people here care so deeply about the word and the world, filling the rooms to overflow.
It’s something hugely to be proud of, after all the hard work that paid off in radiant weather, a flawless event and such happiness for so many.
Getting to join you all at Rancho Mirage this past winter was truly one of the highlights of my year. It so affected me, in fact, that I … never stopped talking about Lucie Arnaz and some of the remarkable audience members that I met.
Thank you for supporting the word and the idea so generously, and for finding a way to share some of us with your tremendous community out there.
Linda Johnson Rice
The RMWF was wonderful. I felt honored to participate. You and your team made all the guests feel special from the valet parkers to the greeting ambassadors.. all excellent.
Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan
Most exciting, interesting book festival that I have ever been to.
So now I’m sitting in my office, already deep in reverie about the extraordinary days just spent in Rancho Mirage.
Thanks for your generosity, friendship and faith in me. As I mentioned yesterday, the Writers’ Festival is the best of its kind and will soon be a landmark institution of literate American culture. All of us authors at the festival felt thrilled to be a part of it.
Del Quentin Wilber
This has been one of the truly inspiring conferences I have ever attended. Thank you so very much for including me. This has been amazing. I’m not usually a gusher, either. You should be extremely proud of your festival. It hit all the high notes and all the right notes.
2017 festival comments
Peggy Jacobs & Bob Howard
We thank you for creating and implementing this marvelous Writers Festival. It is a treasure to the community and a personal treasure to Bob and me.
Van Gordon Sauter
In four years, about 12 days on stage, the festival has emerged a major player among the American book festivals. All the work of one man, whose curiosity, enthusiasm and unrelenting insistence upon quality have defined the conference. And the whole town of Rancho Mirage stands with him in the effort. Bravo, Jamie Kabler!
Congrats and kudos to you for a wonderful Writer’s Festival event! I arrived really early as I was fearful of not being able to park. Who knew that the most efficient valet would be laid on? Coffee and croissants too! And really helpful guides to direct you stationed at every corner and post. One of the best organized events I have ever attended in the Valley!
Brenda & Paul Lilly
At the end of the 2016 Festival, I had mentioned to Aaron Espinosa, Dave Bryant and Jamie that it had been one of the most engaging events I had ever attended and prompted me to convince my husband to become angel donors for 2017. One of my favorite quotes at that time was “I live my life in expanding circles; therefore my journey never ends.” Until attending the 2016 Festival, I had begun to feel like my circles were shrinking, not expanding; so the experience was life-changing for me.
2016 AUTHOR COMMENTS
The best Writers Festival in the Universe.
A. Scott Berg
Thank you for inviting me to the Festival again. It’s just wonderful what you’ve built in such a short time — an instant institution; and it’s win-win — for the community (the library, the booksellers, the audience) and for the authors. Certainly for this author, as it’s exciting to speak to an eager and enlightened crowd.
I have been to Writers events on all 4 continents and this is the best in the World.
William D. Cohan
Just wanted to take a moment to thank you and your incredible team at the RMWF for making the past three days so interesting, informative and entertaining. Congratulations on making this such a HUGE success and I hope to see you again soon. I had a great time, made some new friends, saw some old ones and learned a little. Can’t ask for more than that!
I just wanted to convey my pleasure and gratitude at being invited to attend this fabulous event. It was so over the top in every way. It was a stunning few days of intellectual and creative inspiration and you are obviously the genius behind it.
Lord Michael Dobbs
What an extraordinary festival you have created. I have never been to a better organized, more fun literary occasion. I feel I learned far more than I gave. We were delighted to be part of your magic. Thank you so much for including us.
Many thanks for including me in this year’s RMWF. You put on an incredible show and it is the best organized, most upbeat, and enthusiastically supported festival I’ve ever attended. It was an honor to be a part of it and you should be very proud of what you have created in three short years.
The best Writers Festival in the United States.
Last night’s wonderful party will be my closing memory of this inspiring festival. It has been a marvelous celebration of words, art, beauty, and friendship.
Jodi Kantor and Ron Lieber
We can’t thank you enough for masterminding that great festival, inviting us to share our work, planning event after great event, and even arranging a snowstorm so we could stay a few extra days. Seriously, we wish everyone treated authors the way you and your crew do. We were stunned by the beauty of Rancho Mirage, impressed by the professionalism of the event, and so happy to make new friends among the authors and guests.
Thanks so much for a wonderful festival experience. You did a remarkable job — that was a LOT of excellent content you packed into a short, exciting few days. My favorite part was getting to know people like Hampton Sides better, and having late-night conversations with journalists doing some really important, top-level work. Writing from Roanoke, Va., I don’t often get to delve into such interesting work conversations with people like Bill Cohan, and Jodi Kantor and Ron Lieber, with whom we had dinner with on our last night. Great hearts and brains, those guys! Thank you deeply for giving me that experience.
Molly Guptill Manning
I just wanted to thank you for hosting such a wonderful literary festival! It was so well-organized, the library was a beautiful venue, and you could not have been more generous or welcoming. It was such a treat to see Sunnylands and your home — from the beginning to end, the festival was just fantastic. Thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of it.
Rancho Mirage is set fair to become the finest literary festival in the United States of America.
What an embarrassment of riches, this caliber of writers.
2016 festival comments
I am still in awe over what I was able to attend at your writers festival and now you are offering what I was unable to attend as well, since I could only be at one place at a time. What a dividend, and ever so many thanks. Thanks for enriching my desert life!
Congrats on all the well deserved kudos and great press articles about your brilliant Writers Festival. It was beyond all expectations; so beautifully organized, well thought out, well produced, running the gamut from comedy to Putin’s seminar. Just absolutely incredible. What a gift you have given to the desert on this one. You should glow with pride.
I cannot describe what this weekend has meant to me. The erudition and intellectual wildfire I experienced has my synapses running amok. Thank you for creating one of the peak experiences of my life; in other words, I loved every minute of the Rancho Mirage Writers’ Festival of 2016.
Thank you so much for having me at this year’s festival! I had such a wonderful time and it was an incredible event, from start to finish. The festival team created a flawless event – and you have such an engaged and enthusiastic audience! It was truly a unique and memorable festival. I’m already looking forward to next year! And after talking with all of the authors, I can safely say that everyone had an amazing time (and all the East Coasters were so excited to trade the snow for the Cali sun!).
How do you thank someone who provides access to a program that elevates your awareness of the very issues you’ve been pondering? And how do you thank them for executing that learning opportunity in such an entertaining manner? In this case, noting the many formal accolades you’ve already received, I’ll just say it straight. You nailed it! Thanks for the gift of reinforcing my existing knowledge while presenting me with new perspectives to consider on such varied topics of importance.
Van Gordon Sauter
Again my congratulations on a fabulous festival. I was awed at something of such merit being executed with such imagination and authority.
2015 AUTHOR COMMENTS
Wonderful program. Wonderful audience.
A. Scott Berg
Thanks for … once again, for the very nice reception and it is the best audience anywhere. (Also a great auditorium!) Renewed thanks for a really nice (though brief) time. And congratulations! You did/do an amazing job.
Everything was extremely well run. Sunnylands was unforgettable! Please convey our gratitude to the whole team involved in running the conference.
I hope this finds you still in the glow of last weekend’s amazing festival. I just wanted to send my deepest thanks and gratitude for your invitation. The talk itself is pretty much going to be etched into my mind forever!
Thank you for that truly wonderful visit to Rancho Mirage. I was so impressed by the festival you’ve put together—thoughtful and courteous organizers, great writers, smart audience members and the most splendid of settings.
Thank you so much for putting on such a special festival and for welcoming me as a guest. I had the most fun and met so many fascinating authors, angels and attendees.
The Rancho Mirage Writer’s Festival is a paradise for readers and writers.
Thank you for such an incredible time at the Rancho Mirage Writers Festival! I couldn’t have imagined more thoughtful, engaged audience—an author’s dream. I was also thrilled to see that we sold out of the book!
Thank you so much for having me to the Rancho Mirage Writers Festival. I loved my days there. The small group on Friday was especially meaningful; it’s rare to actually get to know people at writers’ festivals (I’ve been to many) and it was wonderful to talk about something real for a long time in your beautiful glass building with its amazing vistas. I’m still thinking about the light.
I must have done every major (and minor) festival and book convention in the country, and from the author’s point of view, this was, hands down, the best. You delivered a smart, eager audience who made the effort worthwhile, and there were no duds amongst the authors.
Thanks so much for the grand welcome this week. The preparation and execution of the entire festival were exemplary, and I feel very lucky to have been included.
Many congratulations on the undoubted triumph of the recent Festival. Pat and I certainly had a wonderful time and are indebted to you and your colleagues for enriching our lives so much during these past few days. Brava! Everything was so well organized and enjoyable and, not least, we made many new friends.
2015 festival comments
I think you not only staged a terrific event, you also impacted the community. A very positive and encouraging impact.
You outdid yourself this past week. As Variety would say the book festival was BOFFO. Congratulations.
Kudos! Congratulations! Admiration! Most importantly you have created a legacy for the valley and a personal highlight for me. Thank you does not quite cut it but sincerity is part of my being and it comes from my heart!
I want to thank you for a most extraordinary and elegant event, from start to finish. The Writers’ Festival was a joy and a pleasure from the first day to the last—and the selection of writers and lectures far beyond what anyone might have expected or hoped for. I was and and am proud to be an Angel and so look forward to next year’s writers’ series.