Saturday is a big day in Virginia’s writing community. Almost a year of planning and coordinating will culminate in a gathering of more than a dozen nationally best-selling authors in one place, at one time, to describe how they craft the stories we love. I’m heading west on Friday afternoon and plan to spend the weekend luxuriating in books, books and more books.
It’s time for the Virginia Festival of the Book, an annual five-day celebration of literature that takes place at multiple venues in and around Charlottesville. Sponsored by the Virginia Foundation of Humanities and others, the festival brings together dozens of authors who write in multiple genres and categories. They meet and greet readers and other writers and talk about their latest releases, the new trends in publishing and literature, and more.
The 19th annual festival kicks off at noon on Wednesday, March 20, with an opening ceremony and presentation of winners of the “Letters about Literature” and “The Hook” short story competitions. From there the festival calendar explodes with panels and discussions through Sunday.
Something for everyone
The Virginia Festival of the Book covers everything from fiction and nonfiction to stage and screenwriting and the business of publishing. Here’s a sampling:
Sports junkies should get their fill from Wednesday evening’s “Sports Night at the Book Festival,” described on the website as “four writers (who) talk about their lives in and around sports.” The panel features Frank Deford (“Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter); John Grisham (“Calico Joe); Jane Leavy (“The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood); and Dave Zirin (“Game Over: How Politics are Turning the Sports World Upside Down), and is moderated by Tim Wendel (“Summer of ’68: The Season that Changed Baseball and America Forever). This is one of the rare ticketed events at the festival. Tickets are available for purchase online for $12.50 each.
Mystery lovers might enjoy “Crime Wave,” a series of panels featuring mystery and crime writers. The series launches on Friday with “Friday Night Thrillers” and continues throughout Saturday with “Messing with your Mind, Body, and Soul,” “Thrillers,” “Victoria’s Secret Police: Arthur Conan Doyle and the Rivals of Sherlock Holmes,” “Who Knew This Work Could Be So Dangerous?,” “Murder in the Name of God,” and “Scenes of the Crime.”
The “Publishing Day” series on Saturday will pique the interest of those who want to learn about the business side of writing. Look for panels on digital publishing, promotions and an agents’ roundtable.
Saturday is the home as well for “Love Fest,” a series of romance panels: “Hoydens & Harridans: Independent Women in History & Historical Romance,” “Corsets & Clues,” “Strange Brew: Paranormal Authors ‘Spell’ Out Their Secrets,” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” (Full disclosure: My group, the Richmond-based Virginia Romance Writers, organized the romance event. If you’re at the festival, stop by and say hello.)
Also on Saturday: Hampton University’s Wayne Dawkins is scheduled to appear in “African American Biographies: Americans Who Changed History.”
For festival details, go to www.vabook.org. There you can create an online “book bag” to help yourself keep track of your events.
TCC festival set for April
Closer to home, and a few weeks out, Tidewater Community College is hosting its 12th Annual Literary Festival. This year’s event focuses on the memoir, beginning Monday, April 1, with keynote speaker Anchee Min whose best-selling “Red Azalea” tells the story of her childhood in communist China. Joining Min are author Gwen Cooper, poets Remica Bingham-Risher and Tim Seibles, and former Washington Redskin Wade Davis who wrote about his experience as a gay professional athlete in “Interference.”
The festival, which is free and open to the public, runs through Thursday, April 4, at TCC’s area campuses. Information: 822-1122 or tcc.edu/literaryfestival.
Hanover festival returns
After a several-year hiatus, the Hanover Book Festival is back on the calendar for Saturday, Aug. 10, thanks to organizers at the Hanover Writers chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. For authors interested in selling their books, space is available for prices under $50. Sponsorships are also available. For complete details, genre restrictions for the book fair, and to download a registration form, go to hanoverbookfestival.com.