When my parents came to visit for the holidays, my mother brought me a book from her book club. She thought I would enjoy it because the story’s protagonists are all women who like to write and I’m an aspiring novelist. The book was “The Wednesday Sisters” by Meg Waite Clayton.
Meg Waite Clayton, I thought as I looked at the book. That name sounds so familiar. Why do I know it? Ignore for the moment the obvious fact that she has a national best-selling book!
And then it dawned on me... Meg Waite Clayton will be one of the featured authors at the 2011 Gaithersburg Book Festival. When I told my mother, she immediately declared that she needed to come back and visit me on May 21st so she could hear Clayton speak about her writing. And my mother lives in Florida, so it’s no short or easy trip to get here!
Now, the fact that my mother wants to plan her next trip to coincide with the Gaithersburg Book Festival speaks to the caliber of authors who are going to be with us that day—a remarkable feat, considering it’s only the event’s second year!
My mother’s gift also made me think about last year’s festival when I had the pleasure of introducing two authors—Elizabeth Eulberg, author of the young adult book “The Lonely Hearts Club” and National Book Award winner Alice McDermott, author of “Charming Billy” among others. I’d read Alice’s books in the past so I was familiar with her work, and my decision to introduce Eulberg prompted me to buy and read her book. It wasn’t until after the festival that I started exploring some of the other featured authors works, such as “The Opposite of Me” by Sarah Pekkanen.
This is one of the great aspects of an event like the Gaithersburg Book Festival. It can introduce you to amazing authors and books that you otherwise might never hear about. (After all, according to Bowker, there were more than 285,000 “traditional” new titles and editions published in the U.S. in 2009 alone. That’s a lot of choice!) And the diversity of authors recruited every year promises that the festival will have something for every taste – fiction and non-fiction; children’s, young adult and adult; mystery, memoir, sports and history…
So who might you discover this year, besides Meg Waite Clayton if you, like me, were clueless about her book before now?
How about debut novelist Eleanor Brown whose novel has the intriguing title of “The Weird Sisters”? Or Tom Shroder, co-author of "Fire on the Horizon: The Untold Story of the Gulf Oil Disaster"? Or James L. Swanson whose best-selling book “Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer” was named by author Patricia Cornwell, writing in Newsweek magazine, as one of “the two best nonfiction crime books ever”, along with Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood”? (Seriously?! I know nothing about Swanson, but anyone whose book is put in the same caliber as “In Cold Blood” must be darn impressive!) And if sports is more your thing and you’re a hometown fan, there’s always Michael Richman, better known as the “Redskins historian” who has authored two comprehensive books on Redskins history. (And if he focuses on their past, then he arguably focuses on their “best” years, right?)
I’ll probably be adding a few of the above authors to my reading list for 2011. And they’re just the “endcap” of the shelf of GBF books.
You can check out the full list of featured authors, which is being updated daily as we recruit more big names and up-and-comers, on the Gaithersburg Book Festival website. Then go buy some of their books—or wait to buy them at the festival.
Oh, and be sure to let us know if there are other local or national authors you’d like to see added to the line-up. Comment below with your suggestions—or comment on our Facebook page—and we’ll see what we can do to add them to our roster. (No promises!)
Robin Ferrier is the communications manager at the Johns Hopkins Montgomery County Campus and the chair of the Public Relations Committee for the Gaithersburg Book Festival.