Authorfest 2016

John Clark sharing an amazing day at Cape Elizabeth High School which started Friday evening April 8th with an evening event I was unable to attend, but here’s what kicked off the weekend.

What greeted you as you entered Authorfest.

What greeted you as you entered Authorfest.

Jane Yolen is the award winning author over 300 books, including Owl Moon, The Devil’s Arithmetic, and the How Do Dinosaurs series. Her daughter, Heidi Stemple, also an accomplished writer will join her for a discussion of their work, perhaps a reading or two and a Q&A with the audience. Beth and I had the great pleasure of seeing Jane and fellow author Bruce Coville feed off each other at BOSCONE ten years ago. On Saturday I chatted briefly with her and thanked her for that memory. She told me that every time they get together, it’s as if each other’s energy stimulates verbal creativity and the result is a great experience for the audience.

Just a few of the authors at the fest.

Just a few of the authors at the fest.

The big event started on Saturday morning with a special hour for librarians to meet and greet the authors who came. It was a very impressive lineup as you can see below. Here’s who came.

Adam Shaughnessy, Adi Rule, AJ Smith, Amanda Marrone, Ammi-Joan Paquette, Andres Vera Martinez, Anica Mrose Rossi, Annabeth Bondor-Stone and Connor White, Anni Cardi, Ariele Sieling, Brian Lies, Chris Van Dusen, Dana Alison Levy, David A. Kelly, David Biedrycki, David Elliott, David Potter, Diana Renn, Elizabeth Atkinson, Emilie Christie Burack, Eric Pinder, Erin Dionne, Erin Moulton, Fran Hodgkins, Francisco Stork, Gail Donovan, Gary Urey, Grace Roberts, Hazel Mitchell, Heather Hepler, Heidi Stemple, Jamie Hogan, Jane Yolen, Jay Piscopo, Jeannie Brett, Jen Malone, Jon &Pam Voeckel, Josh Funk, Julie Falatko, Kathyrn Williams, Katie Quirk, Kendall Kulper, Kevin Hawkes, Kristine Carlson Asselin, Kristine Lombardi , Lee Gjertsen Malone, Lisa A. Kramer, Lisa Jahn-Clough, Ed Briant, Liza Gardner Walsh, Liza Kleinman, Lori Goldstein, Luke Reynolds, Mackenzie Lee, Marcia Wells, Marcy Kate Connolly, Maria Padian, Mark Scott Ricketts, Marty Kelly, Mary Atkinson, Megan Frazer Blakemore, Monica Tesler, Padma Venkatraman, Paul Czajak, Paul Durham, Phil Bildner, Ralph Fletcher, Ronni Arno, Ryan T. Higgins, Sarah Albee, Sarah Dillard, Sarah S. Brannen, Sashi Kaufman, Scott Magoon, Scott Nash, Stefanie Jolicoeur, Suzanne Nelson, Suzy Becker, Tamara Ellis Smith, Tamra Wight, Teri Weidner, Terry Farish, Trisha Lever.

I gave in to my OCD and looked up all of them on Amazon to create a list of books I wanted to get and have signed. While the majority of them were easy reader/picture book authors, juvenile and young adult authors were there, too. I was able to tell Francisco Stork how much Beth and I liked listening to his new book The Memory of Light which School Library Journal sent me for review. It’s an excellent story about a girl whose sense of grief and loss following her mother’s death from cancer drives her to make a suicide attempt and what happens after she meets three other teens who had failed when attempting to kill themselves.

Books by The Telling Room authors.

Books by The Telling Room authors.

In addition to individual authors, The Telling Room, a nonprofit writing center in Portland, Maine, dedicated to the idea that children and young adults are natural storytellers, ( had a table with books published by members. There was only a display copy of the one I wanted, Sleeping Through Thunder by Grace Roberts, so I’ll order it from their website. The enthusiasm of the young authors at that table, as well as the appearance of their displayed books was quite impressive.

While I was looking for the authors with books I wanted, several young ladies stopped and asked if I would like a copy of their book. (I suspect my camera might have been what made them stop.) Never one to turn down a book, I accepted a copy and asked them about it. The accompanying photo which I cleared before taking, shows you their display and how poised and enthusiastic they are. This is a middle school creative writing project, the sort that should be in every school, but sadly isn’t. In return for the gift, I promised I would create a bibliographic record for it that would be part of MaineCat, the statewide online library catalog.

I wish every school in Maine could support young writers like this.

I wish every school in Maine could support young writers like this.

What books did I get? First off is Ruby Reinvented by Camden author Ronni Arno. It’s a middle grade story about a girl whose parents are a star pitcher for the Dodgers and a fashion model. When she discovers her private school friends only hang with her because she has famous parents, she reacts by asking them to let her attend a a boarding school in midcoast Maine. She gets caught up in an impulsive lie that is at the heart of the story. I read it quickly and can say it’s intelligent and well written, a book that will appeal to smart tween readers.

Granddaughter Piper is the proud owner of a signed copy of Manny’s Cows by Suzy Becker and Beth is currently reading The Looney experiment by Luke Reynolds. I have three more to savor in the near future: Drift & Dagger by Kendall Kulper, a combination fantasy thriller, The Hidden Twin by Adi Rule another fantasy that fans of Tamora Pierce will love, and Keepers of the Labyrinth by Erin E. Moulton an urban fantasy about a daredevil girl trying to cope with and understand her mother’s death. It involves Crete and a Minotaur.

Multiply this girl's excitement by a couple hundred and you get a sense for how much energy was in the room.

Multiply this girl’s excitement by a couple hundred and you get a sense for how much energy was in the room.

This was not the first Authorfest, but it was the first I was aware of and I certainly hope it won’t be the last. It was supported/sponsored by Bullmoose who handled book sales seamlessly, as well as Ocean House Gallery, The Inn By The Sea and The Farm stand, a local produce and butcher shop.

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3 Responses to Authorfest 2016

  1. Kate collier says:

    I loved hearing about all the young authors and the remarkable Telling Room.

  2. Lea Wait says:

    What a wonderful event! And The Telling Room is one of Maine’s treasures, for sure.
    Thanks for sharing the day.

  3. Linda Lord says:

    Great to read about this event, John.

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