if you're a bookworm, chances are good that a favorite author will be in Decatur during the Labor Day weekend at the sixth annual AJC Decatur Book Festival Presented by DeKalb Medical.
Among the festivals more than 300 authors are New York Times bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson of Georgia, author of Backseat Saints; National Book Foundation winner Karen Russell, named as one of the nation’s outstanding young writers and author of Swamplandia!; Guggenheim Fellow Clyde Edgerton; who has had five novels among the New York Times Notable Books; New York Times best-selling children’s author Gordon Korman, who wrote his first book when he was 12; Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Robert Olen Butler, whose latest novel is A Small Hotel; former Navy SEAL Team Six member Dr. Howard Wasdin, a Georgia chiropractor author of Seal Team Six Memoirs; Tom Perrotta, author of the forthcoming novel The Leftovers, as well as The Abstinence Teacher; Lillian C. Smith Award winning writer Tayari Jones; Pritnz award winning young adult author Libba Bray; and James Beard award winning food writer Kim Severson.
The city of Decatur itself is among the draws for best-selling authors, says Terra McVoy, program director of the festival.
“You can walk to where your presentation is; do your presentation; and then walk to fabulous shops and fantastic restaurants. It’s a very very visitor-friendly festival in terms of authors, and in terms of all of attendees” says McVoy, herself the author of Pure and After the Kiss.
The city’s dense population allows for fans to rub elbows with authors that they admire. Authors often hang out at Twain's or the Brick Store Pub.
“Another comment we hear overwhelmingly from authors and publicists is that this is one of the best organized festivals,” says McVoy.
This year, the festival had to turn down a number of thriller authors who had applied, McVoy said. “We’re not the Decatur Thriller festival.”
Instead, festival organizers “really try to have something for almost everybody” including kids authors, nonfiction, mysteries, poets and a large number of local authors.
“Many people who used to go out of town for Labor Day, now have out of town friends come and visit for it,” says McVoy.
The Decatur Book Festival schedule, now online, features more than 300 authors at 15 venues, all within walking distance of the Decatur Square. The Sept. 2-4 festival kicks off with a Sept. 2 keynote keynote speech by Colin Meloy (of The Decemberists) and his wife, acclaimed illustrator Carson Ellis, writers of a new adventure book, Wildwood. They keynote will be at 8 p.m. in Presser Hall at Agnes Scott College.
“We’ve renamed several stages and done some rearranging this year. Overall, we have a fantastic set of venues where festival-goers will really be able to enjoy all the author events,” said festival Executive Director Daren Wang.
First Baptist Church Decatur will host authors for a third year, and writers will be in their second year at the new Decatur High School Auditorium. The Escape Stage for teens will relocate to the Decatur Library. Emory University will sponsor the Decatur Presbyterian Stage.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival Presented by DeKalb Medical is the largest independent book festival in the country, and the fourth largest overall. This year, more than 300 authors and tens of thousands of festival goers will crowd the historic downtown Decatur Square to enjoy book signings, author readings, panel discussions, an interactive children’s area, live music, parades, cooking demonstrations, poetry slams, writing workshops, and more. For more information, visit www.decaturbookfestival.com, “like” Decatur Book Festival on Facebook, or follow @DBookFestival on Twitter.