An excerpt from the upcoming book by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary: The Santa Barbara Writers Conference Scrapbook — Words of Wisdom from Thirty Years of Literary Excellence 1973 – 2003
San Francisco Chronicle Columnist, and close friend of the Conrads, Herb Caen visited the conference as their guest. He wrote in his daily S.F. column under the title—Lush Life, Santa Barbara:
"A good writers conference is no better than the sum of its parties, and here the parties are the best. Leinie Schilling (you know, the spices) threw a huge one that spread across the football-sized lawn outside her George Washington Smith mansion. Architect Smith was to Santa Barbara what Willis Polk was to Old San Francisco. Mel Ferrer was there, being confused as always with Jose Ferrer, which is why he was reputed to be permanently sad-eyed. Artie Shaw, wearing a tennis cap to protect his bald pate, kept his conversation in non-stop flight.
‘Is he deaf?’ I whispered to Robert Mitchum.
‘No,‘ he replied. ‘He’s just not too interested in what you have to say.’ Shaw on his one-time rival Bennie Goodman: ‘I liked him till he started to believe all that “King of Swing” crap.’”
1980 was the year William Styron told the conference how he came to write Sophie’s Choice which held the number one spot on the best seller list for 47 weeks.