It’s been said that everyone has a story worth telling. What is it that compels a person to find their voice and take the long, complicated, often lonely journey to tell their story, while others are content simply to read or perhaps dream of writing? Gathering accomplished authors together and asking them to talk about what motivates them to write is one of the elements that gives Books in Bloom its ever-fresh appeal. Some writers speak of years of rejections and frustration. Others have experienced near-instant success. Whether it’s history or poetry or fiction, the common thread is a passion to share something meaningful with others. It’s their passion that draws crowds to come listen. It’s passion that holds an audience spellbound, makes them laugh with delight or nod in recognition.
“The trust that develops when someone is drawn into a world of words and ideas is what brings the magic of reading into focus,” says Jean Elderwind, long-time co-chair, “Both writing and reading are generally solitary pursuits. The festival connects writers to readers and offers a window into a fascinating creative process.”
Books in Bloom is a free festival that begins at 12 Noon on Sunday, May 19th in Eureka Springs, and fills the afternoon with on-going readings, author talks and book signings. Authors occupy festive tents in the flower-filled gardens of the Crescent Hotel and Spa, and when they are not scheduled to speak, they are free to chat with attendees. That’s another aspect of the festival that sets it apart from more formal author events. The relaxed outdoor setting promotes casual conversations and mingling the way a good party does.
This year’s featured speakers include Chris Bohjalian, who during his illustrious career includes both high octane thrillers and stories offering thoughtful examinations of social issues; Lauren Wilkinson, whose debut novel has been hailed by critics as a masterful work addressing racial complexities against the background of international espionage; Jeffery Deaver, internationally known novelist whose works have sold 50 million copies and have been translated into 25 languages, and Wiley Cash, who mesmerizes his readers with tales of the struggles that ordinary people face.
The Writers Tent offers a variety of authors and subjects, ensuring there will be something for every taste, including children’s books, history, and fiction. The Cat is back! Prolific author and artist James Dean keeps right on attracting young fans to his Pete the Cat picture books. Simple but engaging story lines and droll illustrations of the wide-eyed black cat and his many feline friends have made Pete the Cat a rock star among children’s book characters. Also joining Books in Bloom this year is Jared M. Phillips whose book, Hipbillies, chronicles the counterculture movement right here in the Ozarks during the 1960’s and 1970’s. In all, twelve authors will grace Books in Bloom this year.
Nightbird Books serves as festival bookseller, and the U of A Press and other literary entities will also participate.
Festival goers are encouraged to pack a lunch and arrive early. A shuttle van will pick up and drop off attendees who park at Harmon Park. In case of rain, the authors and books will move into the hotel lobby and onto the spacious veranda.
Business sponsors and individual donors in Carroll County and Madison County make it possible for the Carroll and Madison Public Library Foundation to put on this 14th annual festival, with special thanks to Festival Underwriter, the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa.