It wasn’t until May 2008, the weekend of the Ohioana Book Festival, that I first heard of it. Friday was the opening night for Jeff Smith’s exhibit at the Wexner Center for the Arts. Both Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner were in attendance. The next morning they were off to the Ohioana Book Festival. The Jeff Smith festivities kept me busy all weekend. Last year I didn’t attend because I knew it would be a madhouse. How else would some of these kids get Jeff Smith’s autograph?
I finally made it this year. First I looked at the list of authors and made a preliminary list of the books and authors I wanted to meet. After a while I stopped really reading the information and began to skim it. My list was getting quite long.
The State Library of Ohio is about nine minutes from my house. First I stopped off at Barnes and Noble to pick up the books I wanted but I could not find a single one. I asked on Twitter and was told there would be a Barnes and Noble shop on site.
The lobby area was turned into a cafe of sorts with food for attendees. Beyond the circulation desk were tables and chairs in front of a podium for readings. Beyond the library stacks was the main festival area. It was an extremely large room. Tables were setup for the sponsors and partners around the perimeter. Barnes and Noble had several long tables with books and a cash wrap area. They were even able to honor my member card for a discount on my purchases. One corner had a podium and chairs. I imagine this was for the panel discussions.
In the middle of the room were tables groaning under the weight of books with authors behind them. I know readers like pictures but I didn’t take any. Because it was lunch time, a lot of authors were eating at their tables – I didn’t want to have them worried about food in their teeth and I thought it might be inconsiderate of the other authors who didn’t get their pictures taken. Call me an odd bird.
First I stopped to see Lucy A. Snyder. I was of course, my babbling idiot self, when I introduced myself. (I’m fine with award winning filmmakers but authors in person are another story.) Several years ago I went to see her husband at a reading and when she was chatting with people I used that as my excuse not to introduce myself. She and I have been friends on LiveJournal for years. I bought a copy of Spellbent (one of my favorite books this year) and a limited edition of Sparks and Shadows, one of her short story collections. We talked a little bit about Spellbent and I completely overlooked the Stoker Award on her table. (Bad me.) Lucy was one of the featured authors at this year’s festival.
Next I saw Linda Robertson, the rocking and rolling author of the Persephone Alcmedi series. I picked up a copy of Vicious Circle, the first in the series. She shared a story about the time she had a book signed by an author and the author misspelled her name. Linda had two sets of soaps at her table and I took one of the cedar and sage soaps. It’s supposed to be what the main character smells when she puts on the leather jacket of Johnny, a werewolf.
Seated at the same table as Linda was Laura Bickle, the author of Embers. When I was telling Linda and Laura about all the Ohioana authors I hadn’t heard of, Laura joked she was a noob. Embers was released last month and in June she’s releasing another book titled Dark Oracle under the name Alayna Williams. Want to hear something funny? Laura’s been doing blog tours and I left a comment on one of last month’s stops.
Lastly I was able to meet Casey Daniels. I picked up a copy of Don of the Dead, the first in the Pepper Martin Mysteries. Pepper is a cemetery tour guide who solves ghosts problems. There are six books so far with a seventh on the way. Casey let me know each ghost is from a different decade. This mystery series sounds like a unique concept and the ghosts from different decades are bound to keep things fresh.
I picked up books from Jen Hirt and David Giffel but they were away from their table doing readings and I imagine getting some lunch. Jen Hirt’s book is fairly new. It’s a memoir about her family’s greenhouse business. I heard of David’s book from The Thurber House author series but didn’t get a chance to go to the reading. It’s about restoring an old house that needs a large amount of work. Think of the house the Bouvier Beale women (of Grey Gardens fame) lived in and you have an idea of what he was up against.
I’m looking forwarding to reading all of these books and going to the Ohioana Book Festival in 2011.