Jun 8, 2009

The 25th Annual Printers Row Lit Fest in Chicago

David and I arrived rather late on Saturday afternoon, wearing heavy jackets to ward of the chill and brandishing a clear umbrella. Tents filled the historic Printers Row in downtown Chicago and were filled with books, books, and more books. There are small press publishers, local bookstores, and authors from around the country.

Almost immediately, I was snatched up by a raven-haired temptress in glasses. Amy Guth was doing live, streaming interviews with authors throughout the day and had a few minutes to fill. http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/chicago-subtext/ I was kidnapped and place infront of a mike and a laptop camera. I was freaking out, but trying to play it cool. My very first interview! David says I did well, but I kept coming up with better answers later on. Also, I hate the sound of my voice on recordings. Oh, well. Amy is an awesome interviewer and did her best to make me comfortable.

We chatted with Featherproof Books http://www.featherproof.com/ , which is a whimsical, small press publisher. If the Decemberists were transformed into a book publisher, they would look like this. Is it possible to have a crush on a company? David practically had to drag me over to talk to them. I was struck under a spell of shyness. They were kind and encouraging. I may submit a short story to be included in their free mini-books.

We walked quickly, as it was wet and cold and threatening rain. We stopped inside Flaco’s Tacos for some good, cheap eats. Great tamales.

We stopped by the Women and Children First booth and purchased Jeanette Winterson’s “The Stone Gods.” I introduced myself to the owner and thanked her for carrying my book. I hope it sells!

On Sunday, we arrived earlier in order to attend several panels. We went to the Young Adult panel and bought “The Order of Odd Fish” by my favorite writer-to-be-on-a-panel-with, James Kennedy. He is hilarious and I can’t wait to start reading his book. I learned so much about being a new writer and the publishing game during the panel.

We then raced over to listen to Charles Baxter being interviewed about his new novel, “The Soul Thief.” Both David and I were impressed by his articulate comprehension of the writing process and his delight in stories. Listening to him speak about his writing was like drinking fine wine. It was delicious.

We ran from there to a panel on the Crisis of Reading, where we learned that most of the participants didn’t believe there was a crisis. Amy Guth was very articulate when she spoke about how the way we receive information is different and how writers need to adjust to the needs of their readers. Readers have so much information thrown at them from everywhere. There’s much more responsibility on the writer to be accessible to his/her audience.

After stuffing my head with lots of information and inspiration, we decided we needed sustenance. We walked into brightly decorated Epic Burger and were happily surprised. I ordered the turkey burger and, yes, I can attest that it was epic.

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