Top Alta Asks Live Events From 2020

Circumstances forced us to present author discussions and special events in a new format. The resulting online series, Alta Asks Live, proved a bright spot during these challenging times.

alta asks live, best of 2020, peter orner, susan straight, steph cha, obi kaufmann

California’s shelter-in-place order prompted Alta to rethink how we hold events. Like many other organizations, we quickly landed on live, interactive video. On April 14, Alta contributor and author Bonnie Tsui participated in our debut Alta Asks Live program. We imagined that the online series might run for a few weeks while the pandemic played out. But by year’s end, we had presented 36 episodes on Wednesdays over lunch. The Alta Asks Live series has been a hit, and we’ll keep offering it. Here are the most popular episodes, based on audience size.

Alta Asks Live: Susan Straight
susan straight
Susan Straight

Straight joins Alta Asks Live to discuss her memoir In the Country of Women, how she’s teaching college courses from home, and the power of generations past.


Alta Asks Live: Peter Orner
peter orner
Traci Griffin

Author Peter Orner joins Alta Asks Live and host Heather Scott Partington to discuss his short story collection, Maggie Brown & Others, the ease of Ulysses, and much more.


Alta Asks Live: Cartoonists Hilary Campbell and Amy Kurzweil
hilary campbell, amy kurzweil, alta asks live
Hilary Campbell and Amy Kurzweil

Two Alta contributing cartoonists take us through their process — and punchlines.


Alta Asks Live: Steph Cha
alta asks live, steph cha, oscar villalon
Steph Cha

Cha sits down with author and Alta contributor Oscar Villalon for a discussion on Your House Will Pay, what it's like to write a 1990s period piece, and the diversity of Los Angeles literature.


Alta Asks Live: John Freeman
john freeman

Freeman settles in with Alta editor at large Mary Melton to discuss the new wave of authors who have made his must-read California curriculum, talk about his latest book, Tales of Two Planets, and detail the plans for our new California Book Club.


Alta Asks Live: Pandemics of California’s Past—and How We Survived Them
seattle police, spanish flu

What were the plagues and pandemics of California history and how did we survive them? Historian William Deverell joins Alta Asks Live to try and answer questions of our past, and find a little hope in our present.


Alta Asks Live: Private Investigators—Fact and Fiction
tink thompson, phil bronstein, beth spotwood
Penni Gladston

PI Tink Thompson and Alta contributor Phil Bronstein join Alta Asks Live for a look into the lives of the people who are paid to look into ours.


Alta Asks Live: Obi Kaufmann
obi kaufmann
Paul Collins

The author and artist joins Alta Asks Live and contributor Matt Jaffe for a discussion on the connections we share with California’s forests, how their maintenance impacts the state’s wildfire crisis, and more.


Alta Asks Live: Eddie Muller
eddie muller

Film noir expert Muller sits down to spill the beans on what makes noir so timeless, help us define the genre, reveal his favorite films, and answer all of your noir queries.


Alta Asks Live: Ken Layne
ken layne, desert oracle, alta asks live

If anyone knows about the mysteries and secrets held within the Mojave Desert, it’s "Desert Oracle" author Ken Layne.


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