Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Much Ado about Much Ado

I am delighted to welcome guest blogger Ron Block of the Jacksonville Public Library for what is becoming his annual guest blog post on one of the premier book festivals in Florida, MUCH ADO ABOUT BOOKS!

Jacksonville recently turned out for the annual Much Ado About Books Festival and Ex-Libris Gala.

The kickoff for the “everything books” was an amazing visit to Lights over London. The already stunning Main Library was transformed into scenes of London town and featured Royalty from both sides of the ocean-

Two Queens- one of England and one of Junkin’

Popular New York Times author Mary Kay Andrews bowed before Queen Elizabeth I- portrayed with her usual elegance by Betsy Lovett Chair of the JPL Foundation Board. The Queen graciously greeted and posed with each “Londoner”, and was spotted being adored by her royal subjects.

The Main Library transformation was incredible. Chris Bohjalian, author of the current bestseller, Secrets of Eden, remarked that the inside of the library reminded him of Hogwarts Academy. Throughout the evening, attendees were able to sample British Treats supplied by Whole Foods and local musicians tore through the crisp February air and none other than Mary Kay Andrews was spotted cutting a rug with her escort. Authors in attendance were Michael Palmer, Andrew Gross, Katherine Hall Page and loyal JPL friend Steve Berry, who along with his wife, Elizabeth, led a day long writer’s workshop that was a huge hit.

The next morning began with an exclusive breakfast with Chris Bohjalian for a limited number of participants. Chris was late for his first panel at the Main Event Venue, stating that the breakfast had been so stimulating he lost track of time. His first panel discussion was entitled “Building suspense and mystery” along with Katherine Hall Page and Michael Craven. Their comments and answers to questions were wonderful, including a story told about Joyce Carol Oates purchasing a Selectric Typewriter to avoid online distraction while she writes. (What number is my book ranked on Amazon today?). Following the first round of panels, the authors gathered in the Main Library Conference Center for book signings.

The rest of the morning we were treated to talks by Michael Palmer, Andrew Gross and Teen author Sara Zarr. All the panels were riveting, and each author was very gracious and kind. Michael Palmer even visited a nearby restaurant and thrilled the waitress with a signed copy of The Last Surgeon.

The main event of the day was the keynote luncheon. The conference level ballroom was unrecognizable as each table was covered in bright pink material (later found out to be former choir robes!) along with Benjamin Moore Paint Cans filled with Magnolia Tree Branches. The podium was surrounded by ladders of different sizes and colors all of which were draped with multi colored robe material and magnolia stems. A perfect setting for our guest of honor-Mary Kay Andrews, ready to dish it southern style! MK entered the room and made a point of visiting each table, posing for pictures and thanking everyone for their support of the library. Following her introduction by local celebrity, Charlene Shirk, all bets were off. We were treated to the southern style wit, charm and borderline naughty antics of a true southern woman. She had the room laughing with her instructions for making proper chicken salad, along with stories of the basis for many of her memorable characters. Listening to her is like visiting an old friend. Mary Kay followed up her talk by answering every last question anyone had for her and signed books for as many people who were willing to wait in line. She is a true character, and Jacksonville fell in love with her.

I can’t wait to see what happens next year! An aside to Mary Kay- as you wrote in my book- thank YOU for a great time! xo

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That Ron Block!Hush, now!

Search This Blog