The Virginia Festival of the Book continued on Friday, and all of the programs I went to were great.
First, I headed over to WriterHouse for the Novels About Novelists panel, which featured Martha McPhee, John McNally, and Carolyn Parkhurst. I think I would enjoy all three of those novels, and all three writers were very good presenters. I didn’t buy the books, but I’m definitely going to keep them in mind.
Then I walked back to New Dominion Bookshop, stopping on the way for coffee at Java Java, thinking I had plenty of time. And yet I realized the next program I wanted to see would be in high demand, so I finished quickly and got to the store. Where the seats were already filled. But I sat on the stairs and that was fine. This was the National Book Award Winners panel, featuring John Casey, Kathryn Erskine, and Jaimy Gordon. I was able to chat with John a bit–I know him from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference–and got both Kathryn’s and Jaimy’s books. (I already had John’s.)
After that program I had a little time to walk around the mall before my next program, also at New Dominion. This one was poetry, and while the space wasn’t as crowded as it had been for the NBA winners, it was pretty full. The subject was The Disastrous Muse and featured Dan Albergotti, Jake Adam York, and Jon Pineda, all of whom I knew, and Jane Satterfield, whom I’d heard of but never met. The readings were all great. Then it was time to hurry home.
On Saturday I came over the mountain earlier because I was moderating a panel at 10AM. First, in the bookfair, I saw people I knew from both WriterHouse and James River Writers, so I chatted with them for a while. The panel went well, I thought. The subject was “Death: Another Time, Another Place” and, although I still don’t know exactly how that title covered all the books represented on the panel, we had plenty to talk about. I really enjoyed listening to John Connolly, Alan Orloff, Deanna Raybourn, and Paul Robertson talk about their work. There were some very good questions, and then it was over. (The book signing afterward was a little confusing. Fans were supposed to go all the way out to the lobby to buy the books and then come back to the signing area, which was in the hallway. That wasn’t made clear to me as a moderator or else I would have announced it. Also, my book was available for sale, but I doubt that anyone bought it–I wasn’t able to stick around to sign, even if there had been a space for me.)
I hurried out to Barnes & Noble for the Short Story panel, the one I was on last year, and discovered that the moderator this year was the same as last year’s also. I probably would have gone to this program even if my friend Mary Akers hadn’t been on it, but it was fun to hear her read again. Also on the panel were Ed Falco and Andrew Wingfield, whose books I bought (I already had Mary’s, of course), and Ariel Sabar, whose memoir I bought when he appeared at the Festival two years ago.
After a late lunch, then, I came back to Barnes & Noble to moderate my last panel, on Historical Fiction. We had a good crowd–better than I expected for late on a Saturday afternoon–for Lenore Hart, Brenda Rickman Vantrease, George Robert Minkoff, and Paul Robertson. Unfortunately I let their presentations go on a little long so there was only about 15 minutes for questions. It was all fascinating.
And then there was just enough time to head back to the mall for the authors’ reception at the Paramount, a fun event that I always enjoy.
A very successful Festival! (It continues today, but I wasn’t drawn to the events on the schedule for today.)