Making The Literary Connection by Gretchen Haertsch
Do all writers have a thing about autographed books or is it just me? This past Saturday I went to the Philadelphia Book Festival Street Fair with my husband and sister. None of us could resist buying books despite our lean purses, but I was definitely the worst offender. I emerged triumphant with a stack of four books, three of which are autographed. I met children’s book writer and illustrator Chris Van Allsburg, children’s book illustrator Bryan Collier, and historical novelist Cordelia Frances Biddle. What an inspiration to be up close and personal with these amazing artists. And there’s something awfully special about having an author or illustrator inscribe your name and sign his or her own inside your new book.
It was the fifth year for the Philadelphia Book Festival which culminates its full week of activities with the street fair. With more than 90 authors and literary exhibitors, there was something for everyone at the fair, and lots more throughout the week, including a sell-out appearance by Tina Fey.
The Festival served to remind me how important it is to meet and mingle with other folks who love books as much as I do. It’s a way of connecting with the larger literary community that feels important. There’s lots of us out here, from those who self-publish and market their own books to those who are already big names but aren’t really that different from writers still waiting for our big break. And then there are the people who just love great books, like the folks from Philadelphia Great Books which promotes “reading, thinking, and the exchange of ideas through the ‘shared inquiry’ method” – a worthy endeavor if ever there was one. I told my students it’s a great way to get to know the local publishers and even pick up a few free books. That’s happened to me in years past. And in an age when connections – whether via social media or networking – are everything, who knows where it can lead?
After all, Bryan Collier saved my place in line as we both waited for Chris Van Allsburg’s autograph and Cordelia Frances Biddle, a fellow adjunct (at Drexel University) and clearly a kindred spirit, agreed to be interviewed for this blog. Stay tuned!