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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, hartjohnson23@gmail.com. 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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Interview with 2015 BookFest Speaker Mary Doria Russell

Kerrytown BookFest Vice President Sharon Gambin recently caught up with Mary Doria Russell to ask about her background, her influences, and what’s next for her.

We would love to know what inspired you to begin writing novels.

Unemployment! I was teaching anatomy at the Case Western University School of Dentistry, but before long, the entire Basic Sciences Department was eliminated and all the courses were folded into the med school. So I didn’t actually lose my job. I know right where it is. It’s in the med school and someone else is doing it now.

Photo: Jeff Rooks

Photo: Jeff Rooks

I left academe at that point. I worked as a freelance technical writer for five years, but my contracts dried up during the big recession at the end of the Bush Administration (Bush I, not Bush II). By then my kid was in school full time and I had an idea for what I thought might be a short story. Kind of got away from me… That short story turned into The Sparrow (1996) and Children of God (1998).

Please tell us something about the challenges and pleasures of your research and writing process?

Well, I do enjoy research. Each of the novels has been the equivalent of a Ph.D. thesis — but with dialog. The challenge is, I can do a lot of research only to find out that I can’t make a story out of it.

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Kerrytown BookFest Speaker Lineup Finalized

Ann Arbor’s Oldest Continuous Book Festival Enters 13th Consecutive Year

The Kerrytown Bookfest is pleased to announce that we have finalized our speaker lineup for our 13th season, and it’s a doozy! This year’s event, which takes place on September 13th, 2015, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. in the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, is centered on “Old Friends,” and the Kerrytown Bookfest has invited back some very popular speakers from our past to anchor the program.

Noted Michigan writers Bonnie Jo Campbell and Thomas Lynch will kick off the day with a special ticketed breakfast beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the Zingerman’s Events on 4th space at the Kerrytown Market & Shops.

Our featured speaker of the day is Mary Doria Russell, award winning author of The Sparrow, Doc, Epitaph and A Thread of Grace. Russell is known for conducting exhaustive research for her novels, so it won’t come as a surprise that she holds a Ph.D in Biological Anthropology from the University of Michigan. Science Fiction Encyclopedia chief editor John Clute describes Russell as an “author who established a strong reputation for cognitive subtlety and narrative power…” Kirkus reviews called her first novel, The Sparrow, “A brilliant first novel,” and she’s been nominated twice for a Pulitzer Prize, as well as an IMPAC Dublin Literary Prize. Ms. Russell will discuss “From Mayhem to the Movies: How the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral Became Folklore,” as well as her new novel, Epitaph.

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The Edible Book Contest

The Kerrytown Edible Book Contest is a fun, family-friendly event that takes place as a part of the Kerrytown BookFest. This event invites participants to create edible (and not so edible) creations based on books. The entries are exhibited, judged, documented and eaten (if you dare!).

The Kerrytown Edible Book Contest will take place on Sunday September 13th, 2015 from 11am to  5pm, with judging at 4 p.m.

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The Kerrytown BookFest Book Cover Design Contest is Open!

8th Annual Contest Open to all Michigan High School Students

The Kerrytown Bookfest is pleased to announce that the 2015 Book Cover Design Contest is open and accepting submissions. The contest, in which students are asked to redesign an existing book cover, is now in its 8th year, says Kerrytown BookFest President, Robin Agnew. “The contest is open to all Michigan High School students, and it’s always such a thrill to see their very creative designs.”

This year students are asked to create a new cover for My Last Kiss by author Bethany Neal, and free copies of the book are available to any interested students. Ms. Neal’s novel, her first, is a tale of supernatural romantic suspense.

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