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March 26, 2015

Journalist Bethanne Patrick Reports on the Virginia Festival of the Book


Journalist Bethanne Patrick, one of Flavorwire's “35 Writers Who Run the Literary Internet," tweets as @TheBookMaven and began the #FridayReads book discovery meme. Bethanne received her MA in English from the University of Virginia and lived in Charlottesville twice; she has been involved with the Virginia Festival of the Book since 2000 and regularly moderates its Agents Panel. She also was on a panel about book groups, which had a wonderful turnout! The veteran attendee was kind enough to share her experience at the event this year, including her favorite panel and the most surprising thing she learned.

The Book Report Network: How many times have you attended the Virginia Festival of the Book?

Bethanne Patrick: A great question! I think, at this point, at least 10 times.

TBRN: How did this year’s event compare to other years?

BP: The attendance seemed to be down a bit --- but there are so many factors affecting both overall attendance and my perspective that it's hard to say if that's an accurate statement.

TBRN: You moderated a panel. What can you tell us about that?

BP: I was on one panel about book clubs, and moderated another: the Agents Panel. It's my third or fourth time moderating that panel!

TBRN: Was there one author you were particularly excited about meeting? If so, share with us something about that.

BP: I wish I’d had time to meet more authors, but I was delighted to meet Linda Tirado, author of HAND TO MOUTH: My Life in Bootstrap America. I think her message of how hard we have made it to climb out of poverty is relevant and powerful.

TBRN: What were some of the event highlights for you?

BP: I didn't get to attend too much this year, but it was wonderful seeing all of the people gathered in the atrium of the Omni Hotel for Publishing Day.

TBRN: Was there anything you learned during an author talk or a panel that surprised you?

BP: During the Agents Panel that I moderated, I was surprised to learn that personal referrals make such a difference. If you're an aspiring author and you can get an agented author to recommend you, you should do it!

TBRN: We noticed that there was a sizable "Crime Wave" author turnout at the festival. What do you think it is about this particular event that draws lovers of that genre?

BP: There is never any shortage of crime wave participants or attendees, and that's because mystery/thriller/crime/suspense fiction has something for everyone. If you don't think you're a crime fiction aficionado, take another look at the books on offer --- you will find something that appeals to you.

TBRN: The festival also includes StoryFest, which is aimed specifically at teens and kids. Did you get to participate in StoryFest at all? Does that program affect the overall tone of the festival?

BP:   I was thrilled to hear from Festival Director Jane Kulow that 2,400 area schoolchildren got to meet Kate DiCamillo. I mean, that is what events like this are for!!!!

TBRN: Events like this always have so much going on that often you cannot see everything. What did you wish you had had time to see that you had to miss?

BP: Oh my goodness, so so so so much. I wish I could have seen Edwidge Danticat. I wish I could have attended the Virginia Quarterly Review panel. I wish I could have been at the Beth Macy breakfast! VA Book continues to have awesome programming.

TBRN: What did you walk away wanting to read most?

BP: Karin Slaughter's COP TOWN!!!! I wish I could have seen her in Charlottesville.

TBRN: Is there anything that would make the Virginia Festival of the Book more special for you?

BP: What a great question! I'd love to have some sort of all-author reception where we could all mingle with wine and soft drinks and get books inscribed...but that might become chaos!