As planned, I was able to attend the BOOKMarks Book Festival this past Saturday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. My 15 y.o. niece, Cayla, and I arrived early and walked around for a while, visiting all of the books. Of course, I picked up a few more books, including another copy of Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones (I also own Kindle and EPUB ebook versions of this book). One booth visited was the North Carolina Literary Map, which provides a geographical map of the North Carolina's literary heritage. I received a wonderful bookmark from this group and the following is found on the back: "Explore the North Carolina Literary Map and discover our state's rich literary heritage! The University Libraries at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, partnering with the North Carolina Center for the Book, has developed a robust online literary resource to support public interests, encourage student research, and document writers from all geographical areas of North Carolina. Their map includes novels, biographies, historical works, poetry, plays, short stories, children's books, and young adult literature...just about anything you can image connected to writing in and about North Carolina." Even though I don't reside in North Carolina, I took advantage of the festival discount and joined at the Bookworm level.
The festival provided eight stations with a variety of authors available at each. My first session of the day featured Tayari Jones, Michael Malone and Daniel Wallace on "The Blessing and the Burden of Place." This was a rather lively session and each author provided their thoughts and perspectives on the importance of place (setting) for their works. Mr. Malone noted that he was advised by author Willa Cather to let your fiction grow out of the land beneath your feet. Ms. Jones stated that she felt that her work was a somewhat historical record of places and times even though the works are fictional accounts. All of her novels have been set in Atlanta and the Atlanta of the past. Mr. Wallace mentioned that his settings are all basically a fictionalized version of his grandparents' town in Alabama because he felt a strong connection to that town based on his childhood visits.
After this session, I was able to get my copy of Silver Sparrow signed by Ms. Jones. She is an extremely warm and gracious person and even consented to taking a photo with me (I'm in white).
The next session attended featured Gillian Flynn, author of Sharp Objects, Dark Places and Gone Girl. Ms. Flynn noted that she is working on a screenplay adaptation of Sharp Objects and that Gone Girl has been optioned for a screenplay adaptation by Reese Witherspoon's production company. She stated that Dark Places was somewhat of an homage to In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Ms. Flynn loves to read noir mystery and it is perhaps for this reason that all of her books are very dark. She noted that although she starts writing with a theme, she never really knows how a story is going to end. She even wound up throwing out 200 pages of a draft of one story simply because she tried to make a character a "good girl" and the story seemed force. Once the changes were made, the story made more sense and worked. When asked about the differences between writing a novel and a screenplay, she noted that it was quite a different process but she had researched screen-writing and was fortunate enough to grow up in a household with books (her mother was a teacher) and movies (her father taught film). To learn more about Ms. Flynn, please visit her website: http://gillian-flynn.com/.
|Gillian Flynn at the BOOKMarks Festival|
The last session we attended also featured Tayari Jones. She began with reading the first chapter of Silver Sparrow. Ms. Jones stated that she actually wrote all of her books on typewriters, simply because it was too easy to delete work on a computer but a typewritten page that is thrown out can always be retrieved. This session featured a host of questions about the premise of the book as well as the book as it was discussed by a number of book groups that had read it over the past year. Ms. Jones did mention that she is working on a new novel. I enjoyed the reading and session and have now placed Silver Sparrow in the top 10 on my TBR list. My niece is even interested in reading this book as a result of this session. I'm debating whether or not I'll allow her to read my signed copy or simply go out and purchase a copy for her to keep. To learn more about Ms. Jones, please visit her website: http://www.tayarijones.com/
Although my migraine headache was quickly going from moderate to moderately-severe by mid-afternoon, I'm very glad I was able to attend the BOOKMarks Book Festival. (My only regret is that I was unable to attend the sessions featuring Kay Hooper, author of Haven, or Gail Tsukiyama, author of A Hundred Flowers.) I think I'll have to make this an annual event, as it was well worth the six-hour round-trip drive.
What did you do over the weekend? Did you read any good books? Please share with us...