Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Southern Voices Continues to Succeed

Where do you go when you need a weekend hit of lively music, enchanting art, and more stimulating and exciting authors than you can throw a bookmark at?   You tap your fingers impatiently until February rolls around once more and you can make your way to Hoover, Alabama and the ever inspiring Southern Voices Festival.

Painting by Melanie Morris
This was my fifth year to attend the festival and I have never been even slightly disappointed.  The art is always inspiring, lovely and familiar to the heart and mind.  The music is lively, feisty and foot tapping.  The Authors.......... this is my love.  As a book reviewer and deep lover of libraries, the combination of interesting, fascinating, warm, open and lively authors talking about their love of books and writing - IN A LIBRARY - is the best thing since.... well, since ever!  I grew up in libraries and adored authors from afar like they were rock stars.  To be in one of the best libraries I have seen - ever -  watching wonderful authors talk about their love of libraries... well, that's the pot of gold.
Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors

I arrived in Hoover, Alabama on Friday night, ready for a lovely time with the authors that I know, and those I have yet to meet.  I was eager to get to the reception and have a great time yapping, schmoozing and eating the delightful finger foods that are presented each year.  Egg roll and tiny meat pies anyone?   

Wally Lamb
But first, Wally Lamb was to come on stage and speak for 45 minutes.  This is intimidating to any speaker, aside from an evangelical preacher.  Wally not only pulled it up without faltering a moment, but he was madly interesting, astoundingly humorous and completely inspirational.  From his comedic stories of waiting to sign books at Costco to his inspirational stories of bringing purpose to correctional institution inmates seeking a way to express their emotions, Wally hit home to all of us.  His words went straight to heart and mind.

When it came time for book signings, I completely gave up on even meeting this fine gentleman.  His line wrapped around the sumptuous hors d'oeuvres, around the magazine and private reading areas and past the turn in the room.  I lost the end.  The poor man must have had to ice his hand for hours after this event.

Melanie Morris
Before I entered the theatre for the Wally Lamb event, I had time to walk around and look at the lovely art of Melanie Morris.  I have seen her art before in smaller amounts, but to be able to walk through the gallery of her art and have the opportunity to stand up close and personal.... I felt I had come home.  Her art is warm and welcoming.  It wraps it's arms around you and holds you close.  I wanted to take it all back with me.  I highly recommend you look her up and see how her warmth and love could fit into your home. Follow this link to see more of Melanie.


Meg Wolitzer
Day Two of the Festival starts off with gales of laughter from the listeners as Meg Wolitzer delightfully told us where her inspiration comes from, how she fits writing into her life and what brings her characters to life for her.  She was incredibly amusing, humorous and warm - exactly what Southern Voices looks for when they invite authors to their stage.  She was a hit with all of us.  I rarely purchase books as I receive so many for review - but her's missed my doorstep and I feel the need to own it.  She can take it as a compliment that I plan on opening my wallet for her book.  

Karen Abbott
Karen Abbott came into the room in perfect form.  Pleasant, warm and infused with excitement about the stories she was sharing.  Her book is non-fiction and while one can sometimes worry about a dry presentation - not with Abbott!  Her book is filled with frisky Civil War spies, who were more than willing to do anything, including throwing up those hoop skirts, to get the information they needed for their side of the war.  Rarely is a Civil War book (and I have read my share, trust me) sounded so tantalizing!

Amy Green
Amy Green speaks of what she knows.  The beautiful hills, valleys, hollers and homes of Tennessee.  She is sweet and wholesome and lovely to listen to.  You want to hug her and read her book at the same time.  Her books come from the heart and it shows. I'm not sure why, but the TVA has always been a fascinating subject to me, and Amy made it even more so.

Thrity Umrigar
Thrity Umrigar is from Bombay, educated in Ohio and she branches between those two worlds wonderfully.  Her words are wise and wonderful with a slight sarcastic bent.  Her life traveled from the assumption that she would be taking over her father's business in Bombay to instead becoming a reporter and then an author.  Her words present a wonderfully uplifting story filled with positivity. 

James Scott
James Scott took 8 years to write a kick ass book, all the while wandering around his home muttering to himself.  It was worth the wait.  His amusing depreciation of the time and effort it took to get his book to press is worthy of many a chuckle.

Jon Sealy
Jon Sealy is a lovely young debut author who apparently had his first book fall out of his head onto a manuscript.  This is how he tells his struggle to get a book to paper in his really adorable "aw shucks" speaking style.  We don't really believe it was that easy, but he's the type of person who keeps everything calm and low-key.  But his book is wonderfully full of very NON low-key people.

Chelsea Cain
Chelsea Cain kills people in the most amazing ways.  Her serial killer is on the way to becoming a rock star with the readers.  Chelsea is effervescent in her speaking, and while you might be concerned to be in a room alone with her (given her bloodthirsty writing style), after listening to her for 10 minutes, you are more than willing to give it try. I'm quite squeamish about this book genre, but she has me very interested in her female serial killer so I might just have to look into it.

I highly recommend this event if you can make it.  You won't be disappointed.  I have never met an author who has attended as a guest who has anything less than stellar comments about the library, the staff and the event itself. One telling point is how many authors come back each year to enjoy the festival themselves.

So now I am home again from a wonderfully uplifting weekend filled with authors, books, the coolest librarians around....................and I'm already pulling out the 2016 calendar and circling dates for next year's event.

Follow this Link for all the Photos of the event!

Original press material for Southern Voices 2015 HERE.

Watch and follow this link as videos of the authors are loaded!

All photos in this article courtesy of the wonderful photographic abilities of Lance Shores. They can all be found on the Hoover Southern Voices 2015 link above.