I only managed to get to one event at the Virginia Festival of the Book today but it was a good one. The theme was “Lives Turned Upside Down: Fiction” although it seems to me that theme could include a lot of books, if not most.
I think I would have gone to this event anyway, but the main reason I was there was because my friend Liam Callanan was one of the four authors reading. If there had been an applause/laughter meter, Liam would have won some kind of award as he was charming, funny, disarming, etc., and the packed balcony of the New Dominion Bookshop loved him. They loved the others also, but maybe not quite as much.
Liam read from All Saints, his second novel. One interesting aspect of the novel is that it is in the voice of a 50-something woman who teaches at a Catholic High School and it is fascinating to wonder how Liam captured her voice. Unexpectedly, she meets a man, which is what the book is mostly about. But the part Liam read to us was about her becoming a little too fond of one of her students. Very intriguing, and a terrific reading.
Melissa Clark read from her novel Swimming Upstream Slowly. The section she read was excellent and funny and poignant and it got me to thinking about the process of writing. Hers is based on a wild premise that is at once both crazy and, to the uninformed, plausible, and it's going to get a large audience for that alone. And it sounds like she’s done a good job with the execution, too, so I think she’s got a winner.
Katherine Davis read from her first novel, Capturing Paris. In her reading I found the language to be the most compelling. And I enjoyed her discussion in the Q&A that followed of how she turned to writing after a long teaching career.
Heidi Boehringer read from Chasing Jordan which sounds like it could be an emotional roller coaster. It’s about a woman whose little boy is killed by a passing car, so the tragedy is always present, but the section she read also had humor that made the tragedy bearable.
A good event and I'm looking forward to my next trip across the mountain on Friday.