Monday, February 25, 2008

Book Festivals

The Big News

First, the big news: my new Avery Andrews book Hush My Mouth, the 4th Southern Fried Mystery, hit bookstores this week. Yeah! I got my first glimpse of it stacked on The Happy Bookseller’s table at the South Carolina Book Festival. Great fun.

Book Festivals

Not until I’d published my first book did I know the wonder of book festivals. How did I miss this? Now I’m a passionate fan.

Most book festivals are free. Many states host one. Lots of cities or libraries hold local ones. For readers, they’re all fun.

Festivals Big and Small

So what goes on at a book festival? The South Carolina Book Festival, which was held this past weekend in Columbia, is one of the best. For three days, readers, writers, and booksellers all mingled. They sat in panels listening to writers tell funny or poignant stories about how they came to write their books, or stood in line to get a favorite writer to autograph his latest book. Or drooled over goodies from a new Southern cookbook. Or browsed tables laden with books looking for new titles by favorite writers or for a new writer who will become a favorite.

Some book festivals are gigantic, such as the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. or the Edinburgh International Book Festival in Scotland. Others are small and intimate, like BookMarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

This weekend in South Carolina, I moderated a panel with memoirist Kim Sunee and Southern cookbook authors Nathalie Dupree and Sallie Ann Robinson. If you wanted to hear about how being abandoned as a child in a South Korean market led to a cooking memoir or the salacious inside scoop on mentions in Pat Conroy’s cookbook, you just had to be there!

Not surprisingly, mystery panels are perennial favorites at book festivals, as are cooking panels. What’s not to love? But lovers of books on history, romance, current events, gardening, or whatever else ignites passion will find plenty of delights.

I’ve met writers whose books I’ve enjoyed (such as a chance to chat with thriller writer Peter Abrahams about his children’s books or to spend an entire evening sitting next to mystery writer Nancy Pickard, one of my all-time favorites. [I have a photo of this -- but my eyes are closed and Nancy was cut out of the picture, so it really doesn't prove much of anything.]

Libraries also have festivals, some big events, some small and intimate. In Charlotte, the Novello Festival spreads its events over several weeks, invites the likes of John Grisham and Margaret Maron, and includes a special children’s event and local writers’ night.

The Center for the Book website lists contacts for most of the big festivals by both date and by state, but you may have to hunt for some of the smaller, local ones.

Visit the Bloggers

Want to try an upcoming book festival? Come visit The Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville, Virginia, March 26-30, with me and blogmate T. Lynn Ocean. Walter Mosley and Jan Karon will be there, too – in case that’s a bigger draw for you.

Tell Us About Other Festivals?

Know a good local festival? Tell us about it in a comment below. Don’t keep it a secret!


elysabeth said...


It was so nice to see you again and to be room monitor for yours and Gwen's panel. I enjoyed the humor and definitely rapport you two have. I haven't had a chance to post my book festival blog yet but I'm getting there.

So you want to know about some book festivals - here you go - how about Dahlonega Literary Festival (the past four years had been held in February, the weekend before the Columbia one) August 8-10 and Decatur Book Festival Labor Day Weekend (this will be the third one).

I volunteered for these three festivals and this fall I'm hoping to be on the other side with my children's series. I love the volunteer aspect of festivals because just meeting the fans and readers and kids is a thrill for me (yes, I'm a people person and love books and what is better than being a room monitor or moderator or something for a panel discussion and learning about new things or seeing the folks coming in and watching their faces brighten, like a kid on Christmas morning opening his presents and being totally surprised and delighted at what's under the packaging).

Now off to work and then blog tonight. (I'm going to link this post in my blog as well - since it is a perfect tie-in to some of what I was going to talk about on my blog - see you all in the postings - E :)

T. Lynn Ocean said...

Congrats on HUSH MY MOUTH! That's excellent news and I look forward to reading it. Cheers, Tracy

Britt Kaufmann said...

Check out the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival - September 12 & 13, 2008