Southern Scribe
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  A Gathering of Words    

Reading on Fantasy Island
Amelia Book Island Festival
by Joyce Dixon
  In only the second year of this annual gathering, the Amelia Book Island Festival has created an offering for readers and writers equal to some of the larger book events in the country. Located on the northern east coast of Florida, Amelia Island is the southernmost of the Golden Isles.  Fernandina Beach is the only city in the United States to have been under the domain of 8 different national flags. The seaport village is composed of a 50-block historic district with many original structures dating back to the late 19th century.  Today, it is a resort village with many quaint shops, restaurants and entertainment.

The four day celebration of books began Wednesday, October 2nd, with theatrical productions of Pride and Prejudice and Grace and Glory.  On Thursday and Friday, author sessions were held at Florida Community College Jacksonville, while other authors visited area schools and libraries for readings.

The Book Island Festival was held Saturday, October 5th, at St. Peter's Episcopal Church with a lovely Spanish courtyard for attendees to relax in between sessions. Thirty-five local, regional and national writers mingled with approximately 200 festival attendees.  Sessions covered self-publishing, memoir writing, poetry, Children's Literature, mysteries, historical fiction, history writing, and elements of getting published.

David Ball's China Run has been selected for Amelia Island's One Book/One Community program.  Ball, keynote speaker for the Lunch-with-Authors, spoke on his thriller, which explores the dark side of Americans adopting Chinese babies.  Ball's inspiration was his own experience adopting his Chinese daughter.

Lunch-with-Authors had a different author at each table with festival attendees.  At my table was author G. W. "Bill" Reynolds III, author of the Jetty Man series and Roads End. Jetty Man is the Southern Gothic coming of age story of a young man in Mayport, Florida, which is in development for a feature film. Roads End is a novel about a south Georgia hunting club that captures the rites of passage for southern men.



As a reader of southern regional writing, a session that stood out for me was "Capturing a Sense of Place."  Susan Carol McCarthy read from her historical novel, Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands.  The novel is based on true events surrounding the 1951 murder of a 19-year-old black citrus picker by Florida Klansmen.

Regular contributor to Southern Scribe, Dickie Anderson was an energetic wealth of writing tips and self-publishing advice. Her collection of Florida Times-Union "On the Porch" columns, From the Porch: Share the Charm of Island Living has recently been published.

The evening of the Book Island Festival, authors read at private dinners for festival attendees at area restaurants.  It was a perfect ending for a much loved weekend.



Author Jane Walker signing her historical novel, Widow of Sighing Pines.

A session with the Deadly Divas: mystery authors Denise Swanson, Susan McBride, Letha Albright and Lisa Kleinholz.

Amelia Book Island Festival web site

2002, Joyce Dixon, All Rights Reserved