Sunday, October 31, 2010

Southern Festival of Books 2010, Part One

Nashville welcomed Southern Festival of Books attendees a few weekends ago with three beautiful days of sunshine. It crept into the high 80s each day, but remained cool enough in the shadows to wear appropriately fall-ish clothing. I was fairly picky when choosing sessions to attend, ending up in only five sessions the entire weekend. For the most part, though, I chose extremely well. Each session was interesting and led to much note-taking on my part (yep, I am truly a book nerd!).

Saturday began with breakfast & coffee at the Provence inside the first floor of the Nashville Public Library. The downtown library is such a beautiful building (and Provence is so delicious) that it almost warrants a trip itself. That you get to see it during the Festival is a wonderful bonus. We always park in the library parking garage, as it's no more than $4 per day. Can't really get cheaper than that in the downtown area unless you manage to snag a free-on-weekends parking meter spot!

I must say just a tad bit more about Provence... The BEST (and the original) one is in Hillsboro Village near Vanderbilt on 21st Ave. However, if you are in the downtown area, the Provence inside the library will suffice in a pinch. They still have delicious free-trade coffee, sinful pastries and desserts, and luscious salads and such. Just not as large a selection as the Hillsboro Village location usually has. I had an amazing dark roast coffee and a ginger molasses cookie. For breakfast!

We then traveled to the Festival site and browsed through the vendor booths. Sadly, I missed Susan Gregg Gilmore's session at 10am as a result of a late start combined with that aforementioned Provence pit stop (and really, I wouldn't have been worth much without coffee, anyway).  After looking at booths for quite a while, then also browsing the Book Festival's book sales table, I remembered that I needed to go get my Speed Reader Pass from the headquarters table. Isn't it awesome that I won week one of their Twitter contest?! I think so.

By that time, it was almost time for my cousin and his wife to meet us for lunch... So we went back to Provence. What? Trust me -- try it just once and see if you don't go as many times as is humanly possible. This time I skipped the coffee & sweets but indulged in their roasted vegetable pasta salad. So good.

After lunch, we finally made it into a session: J.T. Ellison on a group panel of women who write mysteries. I love Ellison and her Taylor Jackson series set in Nashville. Her fellow panelists? Not so much. I left my mom there (she loves mysteries probably even more than I do) and ran upstairs to a session on southern literature set during the Depression.

Amy Greene was there with Mary Helen Stefaniak, speaking about her debut novel Bloodroot. This novel had been somewhat on my radar for a while, and then Greene came to Cookeville for a Friends of the Library benefit. I didn't make it, but the posters everywhere reminded me that I had never picked up her book. Listening to her read a heart-wrenching scene from the novel caused me run over to the book sales tent, grab a copy, and rush to her signing line. (Sneak peek -- I finished it several weeks ago, so a Bloodroot review will be forthcoming in the future!)

My favorite quote from Amy Greene, as she explained that she had always seen herself running away to the big city, but then she got married to her high school sweetheart at 20: "The mountains can be either a cradle or a trap. For me, they were a cradle." Mary Helen Stefaniak was also an exceptional speaker and reader. I believe her novel The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia, will make it onto my to-read list -- and possibly into my middle school classroom, eventually, as it's narrated by 11-year-old Gladys Cailiff.

After meeting the oh-so-talented Ms. Greene, I sprinted back to the House Chambers to hear the writing team of Jefferson Bass (Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson) speaking about their fictional series based on Dr. Bass's life as the originator of UT's Body Farm. Both were fascinating, sprinkling true stories from their pasts that link to plots in the books. They also shared how their partnership was born -- Jefferson was working for National Geographic as a documentary maker; he contacted Dr. Bass in order to do two one-hour documentaries on the Body Farm. And as they say, the rest is history.

Dr. Bass also shared that he has known Kathy Reichs professionally for 25 years, although he isn't a fan of the Fox show Bones. He explained that this is because he has "never seen a beautiful blonde with a small trickle of blood at the corner of her mouth as a real-life victim." However, he does credit shows like Bones and CSI, even going all the way back to Quincy, M.E., for bringing necessary attention to the field of forensics. Jefferson Bass will release The Bone Yard, a new Body Farm mystery, in March 2011, which has Dr. Brockton traveling to Florida to explore bodies found at a boys' reform school.

Later in the afternoon, I heard Lee Smith speak. That, however, will save for another day. You'll have to tune in next Monday for a write-up on her session, plus the only Sunday session I attended -- "Don't Quit Your Day Job," about jobs writers held before they became writers.

1 comment:

  1. We had SUCH a good time! Can't wait to read your next post.



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