Every year I go to the South Carolina Book Festival (SCBF) and every year I don’t think it can get any better – and it does. I have tried to analyze what makes it so special and I have come up with three reasons. The combination of these three makes it the Festival every author wants to attend.
First off are the attendees. On the Saturday events of the SCBF this year all attendance records were shattered. Over thirty seven hundred people passed through the turnstiles and entered the wonderful world of books. The attendees were both young and old, and they were all enthusiastic. I got to meet many of them through panel discussions and also book signings. They were fascinating people who came from a variety of states with a trio of purposes – to meet authors, hear what they had to say, and buy books!
Many of the attendees, I think, were aspiring authors themselves. They wanted to know all about the publishing process. They also were interested in how the authors picked their subjects as well as when they wrote during the day or night. They weren’t annoying in their inquisitiveness, but rather made the authors feel special to be asked such profound and direct questions.
I also discovered that many of the same people come back year after year. That gives us all a sense of familiarity, and makes these “mini-reunions” a plus for the Festival. It is also good to see the authors you haven’t seen in a while.
This leads me to my number two reason – the authors. I love authors. They are gifted people who share their talent with the world. The ones I have gotten to know personally are some of the most special people I have ever encountered. Kathy Wall and her husband Norman have become best friends to me and my wife; Patti Callihan Henry always overwhelms me with the warmth of her personality; Dorothea Benton Frank is one of the funniest people I have ever met; Marjory Wentworth knows everybody under the sun and will introduce you to each and all; and Karen White always has a new story about her life to tell and entertain you.
This year’s keynote speaker was John Hart, author of THE LAST CHILD. I have been a fan of John’s since I read his first novel KING OF LIES. I had been urging the SCBF to get him down from
The third reason I love the SCBF is Paula Watkins, the director of the Festival. Paula, and her staff, are the reason everything works. She is involved in the Festival year round and is always thinking of new ways to make it better. Paula is a teeny thing (maybe five one or two) and is just beautiful inside and out. She always manages to keep her cool no matter what crises arise and that makes us all feel comfortable.
Paula also makes you feel like you are a “special” author. She greets you with warmth and efficiency. I don’t l know what the secret of her success is, but I know that she is the secret of the SCBF’s success.
There are book festivals all over the country and each of them is unique in some way. Still I have to say the SCBF is the very best. It is all about the way it is presented and the way the authors are treated. It s a win/win situation for everyone involved.
Jackie K Cooper
Jackie has attended the South Carolina Book Festival for the past few years and has loved each and every one of them.