Thursday, July 12, 2012

Guest blogger: Lyndsey G.

Last week, I made the six hour drive to Grand Rapids for Calvin’s Festival of Faith and Writing.  The festival was a buffet-style feast of prominent authors, poets and journalists known for discussing faith in their writing.  I attended sessions and amassed a thick stack of literary journals to take home.  Authors read their work and signed copies of their books.  It was a bibliophile’s dream.

Here is a quick sampling of the highlights:

Kathryn Erskine read to us from her National Book Award winning novel, Mockingbird.  Caitlin is twelve, autistic, and trying to make sense of her brother’s death in a recent school shooting.  The perfect concoction for a miserable story, right?  Except it isn’t.  Erskine’s reading was light-hearted but powerful.  We, the audience, sat captivated by Caitlin’s voice.  She made us laugh.    

Calvin professor Gary Schmidt delivered a tremendous plenary address which got the festival-goers talking.  He read from two of his books:  The Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now.  

I did not get to hear Craig Thompson speak, but I attended a gallery reception where pages from his graphic novel, Blankets, were on display.  Time named Blankets #8 on its “Best Comics of the Decade” list, and it’s easy to see why.  His original drawings were even more impressive up close than in print.

Bethany Pierce read an excerpt about tree climbing from her novel, Amy Inspired (trust me – it was better than it sounds).  As far as “inspirational fiction” goes, I think she is one of the best.  Even Publisher’s Weekly likes her.

Luis Urrea told unbelievable stories about angelic visitations, the United States Border Patrol and a garbage dump in Tijuana.  If his writing is as hilarious and engrossing as his speaking was, then I’m convinced his books will be wonderful reads.

Nikki Stafford writes about television.  If you like Lost, you should look into her companion guides

Richard Jesse Watson is an illustrator of children’s books.  He spoke about the “cozy collaboration” the author, illustrator and editor undergo when teaming up to create a picture book.  He also gave a sneak peak of a few illustrations from his forthcoming Psalm 23, which were incredible and moving and may or may not have brought tears to my eyes.  (Yes, I am a marvelous sap.)

All in all, the weekend was fruitful.  The conference introduced me to to some note-worthy authors I wouldn't have known otherwise.  I can't wait to start reading their books!

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