The Day the Books Came Out in Georgia
Atlanta at the end of summer? My friends in Los Angeles shuddered at the thought when I told them I was heading to ATL at Quadruple H – the Height of Hurricane and Humidity Hell. But I had to get myself down South at least once more before the summer ended! And lo and behold, we only had two days of HOT-lanta, followed by sweet cooling rains courtesy of Tropical Storm Lee, which led to days of temperate sunshine and hints of fall in the air. It was gorgeous!
Also gorgeous? The Decatur Book Festival! I must admit it occurred during the HOT-lanta portion of the week, but how thrilled was I to see so many readers – especially teens—excited about the word? Readers ran around with backpacks and rolling luggage filled with books to get signed. I met a mother who had brought her daughter down from northern Canada because she was an avid reader, and the mom wanted to keep her interest alive and well. The line of fans waiting for Libba Bray and Stephanie Perkins to sign their books was off the hook – or at least out the door! And I talked to three girls in magical dresses and funky hats who were having the weekend of their lives flitting between the Book Festival and Dragon Con, home of all fantasy-lovers. How fun!
In other news, Dana Barrett of the Midtown Review blog and podcast hosted a wonderful panel with dancer/writer Meg Howrey and Jesmyn Ward, who has a novel hot off the presses about a Mississippi family in the days before Katrina hits. The “Real Girl Conversation about Writing Real Girl Books” was stupendous. It was as if these great YA writers were sitting on a porch swing drinking sweet tea and chatting about their writing – off the cuff, personal, and fun. Afterwards I met festival programmer Terra Elan McVoy who did a terrific job of the whole thing, if you ask me!
The highlight of the week, however, was meeting the ladies of the Vanity Fair photograph. Now for those of you who know me well, you know I’ve been drooling over the article “Belles, Books and Candor” (about Atlanta’s talented pool of lady writers) since it was published in February 2011. When I say drooling, I mean studying the picture and thinking “Everybody looks so pretty! What magnificent dresses! Can I get my hair to do that? Those authoresses seem so successful! They must lead the most fabulous of lives! Will I ever be able to live in an historic mansion like the one they’re posed in front of?” That king of drooling.
And I must have been in the right place at the right time because I ended up meeting four of the authors in the picture at the Book Festival! Jessica Handler, Susan Rebecca White and Joshilyn Jackson were all involved in Ian Belknap’s hysterically entertaining Write Club write-off. Then I ran into Natasha Trethaway at an art installation where attendees could write the name of their favorite books on wallpaper made to look like books on library shelves.
So, it may have been HOT HOT HOT those days in Decatur, but it was so inspiring to see that reading is alive and well and to meet those lovely authoresses live and in person. Last but not least a big shout-out to the bookstores and book people I met along the way: to Decatur’s Little Shop of Stories, Blue Elephant Books and Eagle Eye Books, and to the folks at the Barnes and Noble’s around the greater Atlanta area: Wil Ennis, Dan Boon, Gabriel Haggray and Fran Wallace.
Thanks, Atlanta. I’ll be back to visit soon!
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