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New Exhibitors for 2016!

In addition to many wonderful speakers, this year’s Kerrytown BookFest will also include over 125 exhibitor booths. The exhibitors will be at BookFest all day from 10:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., and represent all facets of the book world from authors to booksellers to publishers to non-profits to a wide range of book-related artists. This year we’re especially pleased to include a number of new artists.

We asked these new exhibitors to describe the methods they use to create their products, and to let us know what some of the products they are most excited for BookFest visitors to see at their booth in September. Following are just a few of our new exhibitors:



Cakeasaurus Prints – Marian Short: I am a Michigan-based printmaker and writer. I primarily work with woodblocks: I draw a design, transfer that design onto a carving block and then carve away all the negative space. I apply special ink to the wood surface that remains, lay a sheet of paper on top — apply pressure — and voila! Woodblock relief print! I just started using very soft linoleum blocks to make new card designs; the process is the same. In traditional printmaking, to achieve a print with different colors, you carve away different parts of the design from more than one woodblock and the finished print will have been printed on each of the blocks. I do multiple block prints, but am also exploring the mixed media route of adding color in Photoshop. I am super excited to see visitors engage with the pages from my Cakeasaurus picture book (Cake Thief vs. Birthday Boy!). This has been a long-time labor of love and it’s now entering its final stages — less than five blocks left to carve (as of July 2016). I am ALSO really excited about my new card designs — linocuts, plus a Photoshop workshop, have invigorated my creativity during a period where there’s less time to spare (HELLO toddler girl!) T-shirts are a distinct possibility.

Processed with MOLDIV


PPPRINTSHOP – Chelsea Lisiecki: I use both traditional and experimental intaglio printmaking techniques to create hand-pulled prints. I first work on copper plates, then transfer the image onto paper using a 1970s steel etching press. At the BookFest I’ll also be offering hand-dyed stationary, bookmarks and picture frames made from reclaimed wood to accompany my prints. I’m really looking forward to sharing my latest series of plant-inspired etchings and monoprints. It’s been a lot of trial and error attempting to print delicate leaves, fronds and flowers, but the end results are worth it!


Popular Design

Popular Designs – Jamie Rhodes:  I create gift bags, gift bows, and gift tags with repurposed and recycled maps, comic books and magazines. I also create hand splatter painted gift wraps to go with my unique paper goods collection. I am very excited to see how all of my products are received by the visitors. I look forward to shopping for unique goods from others vendors as well!


Pretty Bookish

Pretty Bookish – Kristina Molnar: I use old and/or damaged book pages.  I save recognizable pieces of the text to be featured behind the glass in the jewelry I make. It’s been great to preserve and keep enjoying a book that would otherwise be thrown out or unused. I always love the reaction of someone finding a piece from their favorite book! I will have not only a wide variety of jewelry, but will also have keychains, cufflinks, tie clips, and bottle stoppers.


Nice Spread

Nice Spread – Rachel Nisch: I carve my stamps out of rubber using wood carving hand tools, and I use watercolor paper for the cards.  I use a mix of natural and conventional inks.  The blend of inks varies, making each stamp unique. Many of my stamps are abstract images, and even those that are more representational, leave plenty of room for the imagination.  I look forward to hearing what visitors see in the images- my own Rorschach test, I suppose.


Kirsten Elling

Kirsten Elling

Kirsten Elling: I experiment with different media — printmaking (etchings and mono prints) and bookmaking from found paper, but also photography, collage, encaustic and watercolor. Some of the books I make are very precise, using traditional methods, whereas others are more loose or inventive.  Same with my printmaking — I like to try new things and problem solve. I will have an array of handmade books (blank books as well as coloring books for kids), etchings, encaustic pieces, and also vintage children’s books for sale.

Nancy Bulkley

Nancy Bulkley

Nancy Bulkley: My primary medium is clay but I also like to make blank books and use rubber stamps that I have carved. I will have porcelain mugs at the Book Fest that I decorate with stamps I have carved out of clay.

5-4-16 etchings

Laurel Moon Jewelry

Laurel Moon Jewelry I create beaded jewelry and etched copper pendants.  My etchings are created from solid copper stampings that I fuse a printed design to and then submerge the pieces in an etchant, which eats away at any part of the copper that is not protected by ink/toner, leaving the design raised, and the unprotected areas recessed.  I then use a combination of sanding, patina application, and lacquer to enhance the contrast between the recessed and raised areas, and finish with a clear, protective lacquer. I have a line of small rectangular etchings that look like miniature books, and I also have several designs that are based on antique bookplates.  It’s a great way to show your love of reading and writing!


You can find a full list of all of the 2016 Kerrytown BookFest exhibitors in the exhibitors tab on our website. And check back here and on our Facebook page in the weeks ahead for information about more exciting exhibitors.


Printers at the BookFest

This year we’re hosting several printers who will be demonstrating their art form and allowing bookfest visitors to pull a print themselves. One of them is new to us and two are long time exhibitors.


Chad Pastonik

Chad Pastonik of Deep Wood Press in Bellaire, Michigan, returns as he has every year to exhibit his gorgeous work. He will be demonstrating the centuries old process of intaglio printing, specifically how it relates to book illustration, map making and contemporary fine arts. The tools and press will be available to view and audience participation for pulling prints is encouraged!

Joining Chad will be Amos Kennedy of Kennedy Prints! Amos’ distinctive letterpress prints will be on display, and he will create a special “Save the Date” card for the 2017 BookFest. He’ll have a printed background prepared, and guests will be encouraged to print the text for themselves.


Amos Kennedy

And finally, a newcomer to us, will be Wolverine Press from the University of Michigan. Wolverine Press is the letterpress studio of the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. They are housed by MLibrary. They will be printing historic images of campus and the region from their collection, and talking about some aspects of Michigan printing history.

wolverine press

Work by the Wolverine Press

This is an aspect of the BookFest not to be missed!

Meet speaker William Kent Krueger

This interview was conducted by Robin Agnew of Aunt Agatha’s, shortly after the publication of Krueger’s novel, Ordinary Grace, which went on to win virtually every award the mystery community has to offer, including the Edgar.  When BookFest rolls around, there will be a new Cork O’Connor novel to savor, Manitou Canyon.

I’ve known Kent since he invited himself to the store when his first novel, Iron Lake, was published in 1998. As long as I’ve known him, I’ve been a fan of his work. His new novel, Ordinary Grace, is an extraordinary leap – a deepening of previous work. It was a pure delight to read.

Q: One of the things I found most interesting about this book was the voice. While it’s set in 1961, it doesn’t in any way seem like a period piece or an historical novel. How personal to you are the memories of 1961 in small town Minnesota?


A: One of the main motivations for writing Ordinary Grace was the opportunity to explore memories, emotions, and experiences out of my own life when I was, essentially, the age of the story’s narrator, thirteen-year-old Frank Drum. For boys—maybe it’s the same for girls, I don’t know—that period in our lives is an important threshold. We’re about to step out of adolescence and into manhood, and the crossing over is sharp, significant, and full of deep emotion. Everything before seemed simple, and, afterward, everything so terribly complex. Growing up, I lived in many small towns, and I wanted to capture the essence of those places, both for the benefit of the reader and, I suppose, to indulge my weakness for nostalgia. So, yes, I mined a lot of my own background for this novel.

Q: The narrative feels more like a fable or a remembered dream. How did you accomplish this?

A: My own feeling is that this is the result of the way the narrative is constructed. It’s told by Frank forty years after the events took place, but the perceptions and the way in which occurrences, people, places, and emotions are described is often in the moment and from the point of view of a thirteen-year-old kid. So the voice is both current and past. It’s like a recollection that drifts between dream and reality.

Q:I think most serious writers have certain themes they are working through in almost every book. I think in all your Cork books the themes you seem to be interested in are kinship and loyalty and what those things mean. Any thoughts on that?

A: Yeah, I have a few. I write pretty close to the bone. In my series, many of Cork’s concerns and considerations are my own. So, Cork believes in justice; I believe profoundly in the necessity for justice in this world. Cork believes that you make commitments, and, come hell or high water, you stand by those commitments. That’s pretty much what I believe. Cork believes that in this life, family is the most significant relationship you’re likely to experience. Ditto for me. So what interests me in the stories is the struggle to hold to these ideals in a world that seems often bent on either forcing or seducing you from them.

Q: As this book comes after many Cork O’Connor novels, I am wondering if that writing journey led you to write this book? Do you feel like it was intensifying some of the themes you’ve written about in the past?

A: I think I had a lot to learn about storytelling before I was ready to take on the challenge of writing a novel like Ordinary Grace. It seems a rather simply told tale, but that simplicity hides a lot of depth, complexity, and meaning. (At least, I hope it does.) And that point of view I mentioned earlier, the voice that is of the moment and, at the same time, of the past, is a tricky thing to pull off. I’ve learned a lot about storytelling with the Cork novels and a lot about myself as a storyteller. I think I was aching to write this kind of book, and finally had to do it. Ordinary Grace allowed me to speak more directly to issues and themes that have been a part of the Cork O’Connor stories but seldom front and center, things like faith and the spiritual journey. Having done it and believing that I did an all right job of it, I’m eager to try this kind of story again.


Q: At the center of this book is a minister. Many of your books have a spiritual quality, and it’s not a pounding it into your head type deal, it’s part of the fabric of your storytelling. While you often write about very grisly happenings – and there’s some grim occurrences in this one, as well – the ultimate outlook at the end of every novel is a hopeful or optimistic one. I think it’s a quality many of your readers cherish. Anyway this is a long way of asking why you chose a minister as the central character?

A: My first thought, when mulling over the story that became Ordinary Grace, was to make Nathan Drum a high school English teacher in this small town, because that was my father and that was an experience I knew well. I wanted to write about a family that, in a small community, is watched carefully, and that’s definitely a teacher’s family. But I’ve always wanted to talk about faith, really about the whole consideration of God, and so the ministry became a better choice of profession. Over the years, I’ve known a lot of PKs (preacher’s kids), and I’ve heard stories of the pressures they were under and of their rebellions. I thought that kind of kid would make a compelling narrator. Also, I realized early on that when the death in the family occurs, if Nathan Drum is a minister, the tragedy would be such a tremendous challenge to his faith that exploring his reaction—and the reactions of each member of the family—would be a fascinating journey for me as a writer. Was it ever!

Q: As I was reading this for the second time, I was wondering about the structure of this book. You foreshadow what will happen, but the central death doesn’t occur until almost exactly halfway through the novel, making the story a stark “before” and “after”. Was this structure intentional, or did it happen organically while you were writing it?

A: Although the death provides a compelling mystery element to the story (I am, after all, known as a mystery writer), this was not intended to be a mystery, as such. It was, from its earliest beginnings, going to be a story about a family in a small town who experience something awful. It was going to be about love and struggle and faith and hope. I knew that eventually it would deal with a tragic death that turns out to be a murder and challenges a family, and, in a way, a whole community, to reconsider their values. So the first part of the book was intended to draw the reader into an engagement with the Drum family and the town of New Bremmen, so that when the tragedy occurs, if I’d done my job correctly, it would be an emotional blow not only to the characters in the story, but to readers as well. However, because I didn’t really outline this story, as I usually do with my Cork O’Connor novels, I felt my way along with the actual events. So, to a degree, I suppose, things did happen organically.

Q: Did this novel refresh your palate? Did it make you feel ready to dive back into the Cork novels?

A: These days, I never have to refresh myself in order to dive into a Cork O’Connor story. I love Cork and his family and Tamarack County, and I’m not at all tired of writing the series. I promised myself a long time ago that when I did grow weary of it, I would end the series, because I never want to offer readers a story in which I haven’t invested my whole heart. But if that time does ever come, the way I’m feeling right now, it’s still a long way down the road.

Q: What’s next for you as a writer?

A: I have another in the Cork O’Connor series due out at the end of August. It’s called Tamarack County, and I’m really pleased with it. That concludes my current contract with my publisher, but we’ve just negotiated a new three-book contract that includes two more in the Cork O’Connor series and another stand alone. I’m at work on the stand alone, a novel titled This Tender Land, which is, in a way, a companion to Ordinary Grace. It’s also set in southern Minnesota and in an earlier time, roughly the late nineteen-fifties. It’s the story of a wealthy farmer found dead in the Alabaster River and of the secrets, long buried in the soil of Black Earth County, that come to light during the investigation of his death. Thematically, it’s an exploration of the extremes we’re willing to go to in order to hold onto the things—people, land, ideals—that we cherish. I’m having a ball with it.

The Book I Love

We asked 2016 BookFest speakers the title of “The Book I Love”, the book that,  for whatever reason, changed their reading and writing lives.  I think you’ll agree their answers are fascinating.

Patricia Abbott: The Diary of Anne Frank, which has repeatedly reminded me of the power of,the pen even when held by a fifteen year old girl.

Trudy Bulkley (Mother Goose): The Tale of Two Bad Mice by Beatrix Potter.


Casey Daniels/Kylie Logan: I clearly remember the day I got my (pink cardboard) library card and the first book I took out, Horton Hatches the Egg. I remember that my dad took me to the library and how proud I was to come home and show my mom the book! So many, many favorite books since then, but Horton’s still at the top of my list!

Vicki Delany/Eva Gates: I’ll say Bitter Medicine by Sara Paretsky. I had no interest in reading crime fiction, thinking it was books about tough guys written by men who wanted to be tough guys, until heard Sara being interviewed on CBC radio. I thought her book and her character sounded interesting and so I read the book.I wouldn’t be the writer, or the person, I am today unless I’d discovered Sara and V.I. Warshawski.

Kelly Fordon: I’m a huge fan of Christie Hodgen’s Elegies for the Brokenhearted. It’s a novel-in-stories, and the stories are all elegies for the people who have shaped the protagonist’s life. I tell everyone about this book. A quick search of my records shows that I have bought the book for 19 people. elegies

Brian Freeman: When I was a teenager, I read the epic novel Trinity by Leon Uris, about the struggles in Ireland. It’s told in the first person, but Uris does something shocking as a writer by killing off his narrator at the end of the novel. I remember thinking how courageous it was for a novelist to do that – and it showed me how you could write deep, emotional thrillers that engage the heads and hearts of readers. I’m still trying to do that today!

Barbara Gregorich: Moby Dick is the book I love. (I love MANY books, but we’re going for one in order to meet the criteria.) Each time I read it I’m made aware of the power and beauty of the natural world, the violence that human enterprises do to that world, the many opportunities presented to us to turn back from a doomed course, and the refusal of some people to heed the warnings and make the turn.


Ellen Longsworth: Winnie the Pooh has stayed with me my whole life, for its wit and wisdom and brilliant illustrations. I kept a copy at my bedside for years. A Tale of Two Cities–the first “grown-up” book I remember reading–is probably the reason historical fiction is the genre I most enjoy, along with history.

Andrew Mozina: A book I love and that changed my life is a short story anthology edited by Tobias Wolff called Matters of Life and Death. This was assigned in a fiction writing workshop I took as a senior in college, and the wonderful stories in it by Jayne Anne Phillips, Richard Ford, Stanley Elkin, Ann Beattie and others convinced me of the value of writing, gave me a standard to aspire to, and made me want to be a writer.

my side

Loreen Niewenhuis: I think the book that opened me up to having adventures was a book I read when I was quite young. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George allowed me to imagine venturing into the wilderness on my own.

Kristen Remenar: I loved The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. I loved the odd ensemble cast and the unraveling of clues that solved the million-dollar murder mystery.

Hank Phillippi Ryan: At age… 12 or so, I think, I read The Diamond in the Window, by Jane Langton. Smart geeky kids? A mystery puzzle to solve? The transcendentalists? This book allowed me to think it might be acceptable to be a misfit, and reasonable to love mysteries, and it taught already-curious me that it was fine to ask questions. It also taught me a lot about friendship and sacrifice and doing the right thing. All these years later I still think about this novel. I keep a stash of in it on hand (with the Edward Eager books) to give to visiting kids. zen

In college? No question Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Again, I still think about the search for quality, and taking the time to do something properly, and pursuing the journey, and being present in life.

In the 70’s? Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail. I worked with Hunter Thompson at Rolling Stone, and got to know him very well. He taught me to push the limits in reporting and writing–and that telling a story was about intensity and emotion and voice and freedom and breaking the rules.

And then, in my otherwise workaholic professional career, there was the day I called in sick to work – – when I wasn’t sick – – because I could not put down Stephen King’s The Stand. Not only is it a fabulous and gripping story, but it taught me about storytelling, and voice, and conflict, and characters we care about, and structure, and point of view, and the power of high stakes. (I once told Stephen King himself that I had cut work to read The Stand, and smiled, and said that was a good choice. I bet it wasn’t the first time he had heard something like that.)


Barbara Shapiro: This is a tough one, but I think A Wrinkle in Time because it was the first book to show me the power of a story to take me out of my world and put me in the middle of another one where everything I took for granted wasn’t there.

John Smolens: I suppose I could go back to when I was a little guy, to Ferdinand the Lonely Bull and to the copy of Dante’s Inferno that was in our living room, which was illustrated with the gorgeously horrifying Gustave Doré etchings, but the book that caused me to turn a corner in the sense that I wanted to write novels and stories I read as a freshman at Boston College: “In the town there were two mutes, and they were always together” is the opening sentence of Carson McCullers’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, a line that reverberates throughout the story about need, desire, loss, and isolation. It’s also the book that says “Next to music, beer was best.”

The 2016 Book Cover Design Contest

For the past nine years, the Kerrytown BookFest has sponsored an art contest for Michigan high school students. We ask the students to re-design the cover of an existing book, and the top three chosen are awarded cash prizes.

The first step is choosing a book. We have tried all kinds of books through the years but have discovered students really enjoy mysteries, science fiction and young adult books. This year a young adult book, Of Scars and Stardust, by Andrea Hannah was chosen.

We first asked Ms. Hannah, who agreed, and who also agreed to be one of the judges. Then we contacted her publisher, and Flux/Llewellyn Worldwide agreed to donate copies to give away to the students.

Then we sent out inquiries to art teachers all over the state, inviting them to ask their students to participate. This year we had students from Ann Arbor, Flint, Hillsdale and Kensington Woods send in entries.

We received some wonderful work, submitted by students at the beginning of May, and on a beautiful May evening our judges set to work.

This year our judges were Jackie LaRose, an expert in children’s literature; Linda Caine, a bookseller and manager of Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor; Andrea Hannah, the author of the book; and David James (not pictured) another young adult author.


The deliberations led to these five finalists.  Left to right: Shaye Rumsberger, 11th Grade, Kensington Woods; Peyton Johnston, 10th Grade, Kensington Woods; Julianne Cooney, 9th Grade, Community High school; Logan Gorman, 9th Grade, Community High school; and Alexis Higgins, 11th Grade, Hillsdale High School.
shayeProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetpeytonjulianne





Join us at the Ann Arbor District Library, 543 5th Avenue, Friday, September 9 at 7 p.m. for a celebration and exhibit of all the student work submitted. The announcement of first, second and third place winners will be made that evening.

Congratulations to all the students who participated, and thanks especially to their art teachers: Michael Crawford, Mindy Eggleston, Elena Flores and Jesse Pratt.