This year was the 3rd annual Gaithersburg Book Festival, and with perfect weather, there were crowds of people celebrating books. This was my second year attending, and I was again impressed with how well-organized and professional the event was. More people showed up this year, but you still had easy access to some really talented and amazing authors.
Below is a synopsis of each author I heard speak:
Author of the book, The Singles, and columnist for the Boston Globe, Goldstein was honest and funny as she spoke about the writing process for her book which is about five single people invited to a wedding. Timed to come out during the wedding season, the book explores how five different people (3 men, two women) cope with going to a wedding alone. Most of the authors I was familiar with were later in the day, so I stumbled upon Goldstein in the morning by chance. I’m definitely happy I heard her speak, and will definitely be checking her book out.
John Corey Whaley
Winner of this year’s Printz award for Where Things Come Back, Whaley was sarcastic and self-deprecating. He joked about the sweat he was mopping off his forehead with a southern boy handkerchief, and spoke of how his first year teaching at his alma mater was a terrible experience where he learned things about his former teachers he never wanted to know. On the topic of his book, Whaley shared how a news story and his small hometown in Louisiana inspired Where Things Come Back. While his book doesn’t sound like my typical read, I’m definitely intrigued. I bought a copy of the book, had it autographed, and it’s now sitting in my massive to-read pile.
I’d heard Michael Buckley (author of The Sisters Grimm and N.E.R.D.S.) speak before, and as he is a former stand-up comedian, I knew I wanted to hear him again. The beginning of his speech, I was distracted by a rapidly melting ice cream cone dripping all down my arm (and trying not to get chocolate on my white skirt). But the second half of his speech he spent answering questions for adoring little girl fans. He had witty responses for all of them, but my favorite was:
Q: What made you want to write for children?
A: J.K. Rowling’s payday.
Michelle Ray was by far my favorite author of the day. She was a cheerful and engaging speaker. I have not yet read her debut novel, Falling for Hamlet, but knew Ray would be one of my must see authors of the festival because Hamlet is tied with Romeo and Juliet for my favorite Shakespearean play and the idea of a YA modern retelling from Ophelia’s point-of-view is AWESOME. Ray spoke of her love of Shakespeare and how she strives to make Shakespeare not-so-scary. (She wore an awesome Cafe Press shirt that said “Shakespeare Sucketh Not”) She showed us her writing notebook (which is very similar to my own crazy scribbles). And when I got my book signed, she was so genuine and personable. She is a teacher as well, and that makes her extra awesome because it gives me hope that the stress of teaching will not prevent me from achieving my own writing/publishing goals. Can you tell I was impressed? Her book is going near the top of my to-read pile (right after my mandatory grad school reading… or will I slip it in early for a break… we’ll see!)
Other authors I heard:
- Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights and his new book Father’s Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son
- Siobhan Fallon, author of You Know When the Men Are Gone which is a collection of short stories about the men, women, and families of the U.S. Army.
- Marvin and Deborah Kalb, authors of Haunting Legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama This father/daughter team spoke about the impact the Vietnam war on the American Presidency from elections to foreign policy.