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What’s your transformational read?

We asked participating speakers “what book was transformational for you?” Here are the answers.

Scott Beal, poet: It’s hard to pick just one, but I’ll say Small Congregations by Thylias Moss (1993).

Bonnie Jo Campbell, author: The Ballad of the Sad Café, Carson McCullers (1951).


Kayla Coughlin, librarian: My transformational book would be The Giver (1993) by Lois Lowry. I read it for the first time in fourth grade and many times afterward. The idea that an entire world could be an illusion wowed me. It also gave rise to several questions that had never previously occurred to me: What would the world look like without color and how would it feel to see it for the first time? What would it be like to never see or speak to your family again? Is it possible to completely suppress one’s feelings and emotions in favor of a job or duty? I recently read it again and it still amazed me.

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A few words with artist and exhibitor Alvey Jones

We asked longtime exhibitor Alvey Jones a few questions.

How many years have you participated in the BookFest?   

I have participated as an exhibitor in every Kerrytown BookFest since it began in 2003. My wife, Domenica Trevor, has also participated with me as assistant and backup.

Alvey BookFest 2003

What’s your favorite thing about the Kerytown BookFest?

One of my favorite things that brings me back to BookFest every year is meeting the new people and seeing the regulars who stop by my booth to exchange ideas about books and bookmaking. And I also enjoy going around to the booths of my colleagues to see what things they have done and exchange ideas with them.

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An interview with debut crime novelist Vu Tran

09_dragonfishWe are delighted to welcome debut author Vu Tran to our suspense panel at 2:45 in the Kerrytown Concert House. Moderated by Andrew Grant, Mr. Tran will be joined by Owen Laukkenen, Jenny Milchman and P.J. Parrish. His book, Dragonfish, is a crime novel with a backstory in Vietnam. Robin Agnew, BookFest president and owner of Aunt Agatha’s Bookshop, asked him a few questions.

What’s your reading background? Who is an influence? This reminded me of Elmore Leonard and Patricia Highsmith.

Well thank you for the generous comparison. I confess I’ve never read Leonard but I actually picked up some of his books recently to get an overdue start on him. I’m a big fan of Highsmith, however, so it’s wonderful to hear you say that.

I’d say my biggest influences have been writers like Alice Munro, Edith Wharton, William Faulkner, Graham Greene, John Fowles, Haruki Murakami, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Denis Johnson. I also greatly admire the usual suspects in crime fiction: Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammet, George Simenon, and especially James Cain, though I also love contemporary ones like Kem Nunn and Daniel Woodrell. I hate to put the latter writers in another category, since great writing is just great writing in my mind.

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Get to know our 2015 Exhibitors

We wanted you to get to know some of our exhibitors a bit better, so we’re going to be posting some fun answers to questions we sent. Our first two are Randy Asplund, who has been exhibiting at the bookfest since at least 2005 (though he thinks he may have attended since the very first year, 2003), and Hope Meadows of Fly Paper Products who will be joining us for the first time this year. We asked them both the same questions.


What are you most looking forward to the day of the bookfest?
Randy: I absolutely love every chance I get to teach people about what medieval and renaissance books looked like and how they were put together. I enjoy meeting people and sewing the seed of interest in this kind of book art. Each year I bring something new, and this year it will be views of a mid-14th century English psalter which I have made for a client.
Hope: I am most looking forward to being in Kerrytown and the lively atmosphere there. This will be the first time we have displayed our goods at retail.

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John Smolens is the 2015 Kerrytown BookFest Writer-in-Residence

Noted Author Will Evaluate Previously Submitted Manuscripts at BookFest

Writer John Smolens, author of eight novels and a collection of stories, and Writer-in-Residence for the 13th Annual Kerrytown BookFest, will bring his considerable skills to this years festival and offer personalized evaluations of previously submitted manuscripts on the day of the event.

John Smolens

Photo: Lukeman Literary

This is a unique opportunity to talk with a published author and see what advice he has from the real world of publishing. There will be a $20 charge to have your manuscript evaluated by Mr. Smolens, payable in cash or check the day of the BookFest.

Interested writers should submit the first 20 pages of their manuscript before Friday, September 4th, via email to Hart Johnson, Ms. Johnson will then schedule an appointment with Mr. Smolens on the day of the BookFest (Sunday, September 13), who will offer a 20-30 minute one-on-one critique with the participants.

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