After several years of intending to attend the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, Tennessee, I actually made it there this past weekend. October is by far my busiest month, with a number of conferences calling to me, while my husband is heading off to the International Home Furnishings Market in High Point, NC. Still, the location of this festival (in the same town with my daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren) has more than its share of attractions to me, and the line-up looked great.
I didn't arrive in town for the Friday sessions, so I tried to avoid even looking at that schedule, sure I would be sick to know what I'd missed. I did, though, manage to hear from a number of writers I read and admire--Lee Smith, Ron Rash, Rick Bragg, Sonny Brewer, Tom Franklin, and Brad Watson--many of them whom I had discovered through Lemuria's First Editions Club.
I also made sure to hear Louis Sachar, author of, among other things, Holes, a YA novel I enjoyed that was made into a successful movie. Even though I had to sacrifice another couple of tempting sessions, I managed to see the screening of Hey Boo, the documentary Mary Murphy has been making about the making of To Kill a Mockingbird, which gave birth to her book Scout, Atticus, and Boo, which I read this summer. This film, not released yet, is unmistakably a labor of love. She's managed to talk to not only many well-known writers and celebrities, but she also interviewed Nelle Harper Lee's older sister, Miss Alice, still practicing law at 99, as well as the couple who befriended Lee in New York City when she was writing and gave her one year for Christmas a year off work to finish the book.
Of course the festival also had its share of exhibits--lots of books and book related merchandise (including the t-shirts I had to have). The weather couldn't have been nicer, and I left town with a few more good reads, lots of book notes, and a longer-than-ever "must read" list.