Sunday, February 24, 2008

South Carolina Book Festival

As I mentioned yesterday, we attended the 12th annual South Carolina Book Festival at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center this weekend. Jolly fun for bookworms of all ages!

Harlan Coben and Josephine Humphreys were the writers most people seemed to be interested in hearing read in person, but I very much preferred the Masters of Science Fiction panel, and hanging around the exhibition hall, talking to authors and publishers.

Some of my favorite folks to talk to:

Darden North is your ordinary, next-door OB-GYN who writes medical thrillers, while delivering babies in Jackson, Mississippi.

Sistah on a Budget features novels by Tracye Faulkner Stormer and illustrator Kristen Munroe. The one that sounded most promising was Hooked Up; the excerpt I read reminded me of Rona Jaffe's women's novels, which I went through at an alarming rate in my 20s and 30s.

Left: Eboniramm and John Holland, of the Columbia Writers Alliance. (Not pictured: Stephanie Suell.)

I also enjoyed talking with Carrie McCullough of the South Carolina Writers Workshop.

South Carolina Center for the Book holds competitions for young writers, check out

My favorite author at the festival was Jason Deierlein, author of Return from a Comatose Mind: "Swimming star and popular teenager Jason Deierlein was coming home with friends from a trip to the lake when their van got into an accident. Struck by a tractor trailer going 70 miles per hour, their van flipped over several times. One person died, but Deierlein was in a coma... In lean, evocative prose, Deierlein describes what it feels like not to be able to see or speak or move. His dreams while in the coma were rich and strange, sometimes of swimming, sometimes of bright lights...." A fascinating account of injury, recovery, and the necessity of moving on. (And besides that, Jason is a real sweetheart!)

Left: Emory S. Campbell, author of Gullah Cultural Legacies. For those unaware, Gullah is the African-American culture of the barrier islands of South Carolina, particularly Hilton Head, Beaufort, and nearby areas. Their language is a distinctive mix of Elizabethan English and the dialects of Sierra Leone.

Silk Pagoda is an imprint of Disruptive Publishing, offering Asian classics in the public domain, such as Journey to the West. They also offer a few pulp novels, to keep things interesting.


Left to right: fantasy writer James O'Neill, James O. Born, Jeff VanderMeer and Jay Lake. Ann VanderMeer, not pictured, was also a panel participant, as editor of the new edition of Weird Tales.

As stated previously, I enjoyed the Masters of Science Fiction panel, particularly the inspired commentary of always-amusing Jay Lake , whose work is definitely on my list. About one plot-line, he remarked that you had to "do something with it, or it'll just lie there and stink," which reminds me of some blog posts I've done. He describes himself as a raging secularist and raging lefty, so I figure he'll fit right in with most of my readers. CHECK OUT JAY, he rocks.

More photos below, including the C-Span bus (which is approximately the size of the Starship Enterprise), the friendly young woman at Charlotte's Main Street Rag press, who was kind enough to allow me to interrupt her lunch to take her photo (and I didn't even get her name--duh!), and assorted other festival attendees, checking out the miles and miles of books.

The folks at the Crazyhorse literary journal gave me a complimentary 2003 issue, where I found the following poem by Robin Behn:

Aspirations of the Yellow House

Sometimes the yellow house wanted
a public assignment

curved brow of school bus
crossing guard sash swatch

cheery cloth to sop
spittle from the oldest lips

library velo-card
pet shop's pet

iguana's awesome

but seeing as how the yellow
jobs were already taken

uselessness became its motto
privacy its anthem

yellow tooth in a row of
better teeth it stood

through winter the snow going
yellow at its feet and sinking

into the muddy muck and mouth
of every living thing

then all around it troops of daffodils
blew their fancy horns and took a bow--

no one in the yellow house
knew its thwarted dreams

although the stairs did creak sometimes
as if a thing had turned around

to climb back to the stars
and the windows, in the evening, had an aspect,

a dark, expectant, broken, floating, useless
telescope aspect,

but that went away
when they were lit from within.