Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Southern Voices 2017 - Better Every Year!

Southern Voices 2017

All Photographs courtesy of Lance Shores and Hoover Public Library.  Click here for all  of the photographs from the event. 

I have just had the BEST weekend!   Why?  Because I have had the privilege to attend my SEVENTH Hoover Public Library Southern Voices Festival.  This is an event I would probably be crushed if I had to miss it.

Southern Voices celebrated it's 25th year this past weekend and there is absolutely no wear and tear showing.  It does not grow stale in any way.  Every year the festival is fresh, vibrant and exciting, and this year was no exception.
Amanda Bordon and Carrie Steinmehl -
Chairman and Co-Chairman of SV Committee

The author line up this year included an eclectic mix of writers whose books ranged from family bonding, human trafficking, game warden heroes, non-fiction, Southern Grit Lit, murder and stories with a bit of supernatural tossed in.

But regardless of the type of book the authors had written, again the beauty of Southern Voices is that they speak to the audience more about their experiences becoming a writer and maintaining the author mantle.  They tell of their inspirations, driving forces and humorous anecdotes that keep the stories alive in their minds and allow them freedom on the written page. All of this year's authors were warm, personable and welcoming to the readers.

As they have done for the last several years, this Festival not only encompassed the 250 seat theatre, but another 100 seats were available in the Plaza upstairs.  I always have a hard time choosing the venue I will sit in as while the theatre is plush and intimate with a beautiful stage, the plaza always radiates sunshine and warmth and allows you to sit very close to the author stage.

One of the wonderful charms of Southern Voices is that besides hearing rich stories of writing, between the Hoover staff and the authors, the audience always leaves feeling like they have enjoyed an entertainment filled day.... and made new friends. 

Hoover continues to surpass other Literary Festivals by treating everyone as the most important visitor that day.

Rebecca Wells
Rebecca was the Friday night speaker for Southern Voices this year and she created a different presentation by way of a dramatic reading.  Rebecca did not simply read a section of her novel, she skimmed and pulled from 4 different scenes, bringing the characters alive to the audience.  She proved to be delightfully entertaining and authentic. She was warm, open and receptive to the audience. Check out the Southern Voices pictures, (link attached above) she continued to be lively and delightful during her book signing.

Julie Cantrell, Michael Farris Smith, Mary Kubica, Lou Berney, Kristy Woodson Harvey, Karen White, Chris Bohjalian, C.J. Box and Rabia Chaudry - All the pictures are available by following the link at the top.
Click Here to read the bio's of all of the authors that attended this year's event and to get a glimpse of their newest novels. 

Julie Cantrell and Michael Farris Smith, both Mississippi writers, held a discussion on their inspirations for writing, their stumbling blocks, dismissive encounters and also the gritty realities of the writing processThey combined humor and honesty in their conversation and soundly connected with the audience.

Mary Kubica and Lou Berney also discussed the perils and delights of becoming writers.  Mary told of her determination to write, regardless of whether her words ever became public - her secret writing life.  Lou gave a hysterically funny account of his journey to having a published book, keeping the audience in stitches for much of his telling.

Kristy Woodson Harvey and Karen White did a wonderful job of working off of each other and creating a lively and humorous discussion on writing, publishing and basically letting the audience get to know them a little more.  They combined the game Two Truths and  a Lie and a Question and Answer section to really share themselves with the readers.

Chris Bohjalian was delightfully engaging in his talk.  There was plenty of humor and energy in his descriptive tales of book tours and also the inspirations for his novels.  His tale of the traveling underwear was fantastically lively, while his story of a sleepwalking experience in his own family was sobering. In my opinion, he would have made a great key note speaker himself.

C.J. Box was amusing and depreciating in his description of becoming a best selling author. He was honest and open about his road to becoming an writer.  I was chuckling out loud during sections of his talk and nodding in complete agreement in others.   He was completely sincere in his love of the written word, regardless of the struggle.

Rabia Chaundry was intense in her discussions of discovering the need to become an author with her non-fiction book - the drive to get facts to the public.  As an attorney, advocate, and researcher of religious extremism, her event was by far the most serious. You could feel her determination and purpose as she spoke.


I have already blocked my calendar for Southern Voices 2018 - how about you?