Posts Tagged ‘Bookmarks’

Yesterday I got to go to the eighth annual Bookmarks Book Festival in Downtown Winston-Salem. I had previously gone to this event years before to meet an author I had been waiting my entire life to meet:

Yes, that is me and Rue McClanahan (Blanche from The Golden Girls).

This years festival was a lot different from that third-annual one I attended five years ago. The festival has since moved from a secluded park to the bustling Downtown Arts District. The festival is still FREE, though, which I was super psyched about.

The festival hosts several authors of all different genres reading from and speaking about their works and their writing processes and answering questions from the audience. There were so many concurrent sessions happening that made it very difficult to choose which ones to go to. I chose five that I knew I definitely, without a doubt, would be so sad to miss. I started my day at the first session The Blessing and the Burden of Place With Tayari Jones (Silver Sparrow, read my review of that book here), Michael Malone (The Four Corners of the Sky AND One Life To Live, yes, the Soap Opera!) and Daniel Wallce (Big Fish, which I still have not read or seen the movie version of, even though I love the premise of the book and I adore Tim Burton). These three authors discussed what it is like to set all of their books in the South. They talked about the good and the bad and the stereotyped (“There is not one single mule in any of my books.” -Tayari Jones).

This panel was great and I had never heard of Malone or his works before. He was an amazing and hilarious speaker and so after this pannel I stopped by the book selling tent and picked up a copy of a book he discussed called Dingley Falls about an Anthrax experiment.

Next, I headed over to an indoor event that I thought would be air-conditioned, but sadly, no. However, this  was a huge event and I’m glad I made my way over early because it eventually became standing room only. This author is one you all probably already know and have already read, Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl. Flynn talked about her years working at Entertainment Weekly and shared with the audience a anecdote about her first ever short story (written in third grade) which was about a pioneer girl needing to go to the bathroom late at night only to discover that the outhouse was surrounded by wolves. She noted that she had always had a thing for writing about dark themes. The short story was called To The Outhouse! I was sad not to be able to get a photograph of Flynn, but there was an instance of a big-haired lady blocking my every view of her, so I barely even saw her myself. However, her voice was very lovely and I am so excited to start reading some of her books. I was hoping to stop back by the book buying tent to pick up Sharp Objects by her, but more on what happend with that later…

After Flynn spoke, it was about 1:00 and I hadn’t eaten all day. I knew I had fifteen minutes before my next speaker and she was speaking in the same non-air-conditioned room that Flynn had just spoken in. I could let everyone get out and then claim a front row spot for the next speaker OR I could go grab some food before I passed out. I decided to run grab a hot-dog from the hot-dog cart lady and zoomed back. I made great timing and was in perfect view to see Tayari Jones again, this time by herself, and reading from Silver Sparrow.

After Jones I rushed down to the Intersection Gallery to hear Gail Tsukiyama speak. I have never read anything by Tsukiyama but I do enjoy Asian Literature and she always gets compared to those that I love (Lisa See, Amy Tan). If her writing is anything like her speaking, she is excellent. Even though I was a little late getting to her session I still consider her my favorite speaker of the day. Tsukiyama was so animated and excited and energetic, you could tell that she really enjoyed what she did for a living and that she really enjoyed meeting her fans and talking about the works and the places and the people and the settings and what it means to be half-Chinese and half-Japanese but to consider yourself a Bay-Area American. I was really surprised to hear about the years and years of research that she puts into the writing of her books (which all touch on some historical aspect of Asian culture like Pearl Harbor or The Hundred Flowers Campaign). I was so excited to run over to the book buying tent, grab a copy of Gillian Flynn’s book and Tsukiyama’s new book The Hundred Flowers and then have her sign it, but when I walked out of the gallery, I was confronted with this:

That turned out to be a big deal. Papers and books (and in some cases, people) went flying down the street, tents and people were knocked over (you can see where one sign has already bitten the dust), children were wailing, and then it started raining. I had to make a mad dash two blocks away to get to my parking deck and I luckily made it right in time to avoid the big gully-washer that came afterwards. I sat in my car wondering if perhaps they had a weather back-up plan, as I still had some books to buy and some autographs to get and two more sessions to attend, but I decided against checking (since the line of cars that kept me waiting in the deck for 35 minutes indicated that most people were heading out of dodge) and headed back home pleased to have heard some awesome authors speak, and to have met some of my idols.

The day was a great day overall, despite the hunger and the storm. I was so thrilled to meet Tayari Jones and get my copy of Silver Sparrow signed by her and to discover a new author and be able to grab a copy of his book (Michael Malone). It was great to hear a NYT Bestseller speak to us like we were friends (Gillian Flynn) and to discover some great new books that I am so excited to get to reading.

And, I only came home with two books

which is really good for my wallet, but sad for me.

‘Til Next Time!


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