Siuslaw News | Florence Festival of Books Full of Characters



September 29, 2022 — Every September, the Florence Book Festival brings together both the region’s most prominent authors and smaller emerging writers, allowing them to showcase their work. Most of the participating authors set up tables to display their books and discuss with the participants. It’s also one of the best opportunities the event offers – the chance to speak directly with the authors.

It took place on Saturday, September 24 at the Florence Events Center, starting at 9 a.m. with a panel discussion – “How to turn your book into an e-book” – and ending at 5 p.m. with the main presentation, “Legendary Folk Heroes of the NW.

Upon entering the event, attendees were surrounded by entire worlds contained within 6-foot by 2.4-foot spaces, with each creator ready to take them to a different universe woven with history, reality, or pure imagination. .

Patricia Brown, author of the mystery novels “A Recipe for Dying” and “Dying for Diamonds,” sat near the entrance, welcoming guests to the event.

Her writing journey began when she developed characters as part of a writing class. “They didn’t want to leave me alone,” she said.

Brown began to develop settings and narratives around his characters, allowing them to act and move naturally to determine the plot, a strategy that turned his affinity for people into the signature of his writing style. .

A few stalls down sat Cy Bishop, behind a display of sleek, dark volumes. Bishop is a speculative fiction writer who creates worlds loosely based on our own. Some are fantasy, alternate reality, or post-apocalyptic, but most have to do with creating something completely unique by making slight changes to the reality that people actually experience.

Wendy Gorton, author of the “50 Hikes with Kids” series, sat comfortably in the most spacious corner.

“I’m a former science teacher and educator and have a ton of guides,” Gorton said. “But I realized there weren’t any for the kids. You couldn’t use it in class. So I thought, could I make one that a kid would want to read?

Its guides include full-color maps that highlight small natural features that children enjoy but are often overlooked by adult guides, as well as animal tracks, geological highlights, and identification guides. for plants and animals.

Gorton also works in learning technologies with Microsoft, where she teaches schools how to use “Minecraft” for education. This aims to give young students the same kind of creative freedom that her books encourage, a bond she reinforces by adding activities and opportunities for participation in her guides.

“I also bring technology to the ride,” Gorton said. “We have tutorials here on how to use plant identification apps, geocaching or even [using] TikTok to make a nature video of what you see.”

The author emphasized the importance of mixing a reasonable amount of technology use with nature. This allows children, many of whom use technology in all aspects of their lives, to enjoy nature in a way that matches their interests.

Best-selling author Melody Carlson was located near the exit of the loop, presiding over a festive display of largely holiday-themed books. Carlson, like Brown, constructs his stories from small fragments that grow and evolve into full-fledged pieces.

“Sometimes I see or read or hear something and it triggers a thought,” she said. “Sometimes I just think of a title and I think ‘this would be a good book’. Sometimes I think of a character or a place. There’s probably always a little piece of my life in each of [my books]but I don’t always know exactly where it is.

Carlson is incredibly prolific, releasing a Christmas short story each year in addition to his other work. She said, “I’ve written about 300 books. Published.

Regarding the running holiday theme, she added, “These are stories that might not be a Christmas book and they would still be a good story. These are not formulas because they are all different, they are just the elements of a good story.

Elsewhere in the circle was William L. Sullivan, keynote speaker at the Florence Book Festival. He is the author of a wide variety of books, including a number of popular hiking guides and historical novels.

“My dad was the editor of the Salem newspaper,” he says, “so I grew up knowing I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t want to be stuck doing the same kind of writing all the time, so I started

to write novels. I realized that it was really hard to make a living writing fiction.

This led him to write his first hiking guides, which quickly gained popularity.

“I think it was because of my writing training,” he said. “A lot of people know how to hike, but it’s actually quite hard to write.”

The popularity of these guides allowed Sullivan to return to his original passion, fiction.

Many of his historical fiction novels focus on events in local Oregon history, such as D.B. Cooper and the famous exploding whale in Florence.

“I’m looking for an interesting story and a person hasn’t written a book,” he said.

Another fictional Sullivan series is the Viking Saga, beginning with “The Ship in the Sand”, which, despite its element of fiction, aims to be historically accurate and to rectify popular misconceptions.

“Most of the stuff we see about Vikings on TV is rubbish. It’s not real history at all – they got it all mixed up. And what we hear about Vikings from English historians is wrong,” Sullivan said.

Most of these sources describe the Vikings as barbarians and savages.

“[The Viking Saga novels], I say from the point of view of Scandinavians who see things from the other side. They say the English were the barbarians and the Vikings brought democracy, juries and women’s rights to England.

Throughout this vast array of projects, storytelling remains the connective tissue.

“It turns out that even writing a hiking guide is like telling stories,” Sullivan said.

This was the 11th edition of the Florence Book Festival, founded by Judy Fleagle and Connie Bradley, along with other lovers of local literature. A committee puts on the event each year, and could use additional volunteers.

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This article will appear in the October 5 print edition of the News from Siuslaw.

On September 24, the Florence Book Festival featured a panel discussion on e-books, a keynote by author William L. Sullivan and dozens of authors and publishers ready to interact with the public at the Florence Events Center .

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