ST. PETERSBURG – The St. Petersburg Times will present the 13th annual Festival of Reading on Saturday, Oct. 29, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the University of South Florida’s Bayboro Harbor campus.
Welcoming all booklovers, the free festival will celebrate literacy and the joy of reading through a variety of events including author talks and book signings; specially-themed panels featuring authors, critics and journalists; Children’s StoryLand featuring storytelling, entertainment and arts and crafts; open air stages presenting music, poetry and theater; a booksellers and exhibitors marketplace and food vendors.
Panel discussions will include From Idea to Bookstore: How a Book is Born; Writing Couples: How Two Authors Survive Under the Same Roof; and The American Empire: The Power of Politics & The Politics of Power. Children’s authors will collaborate on the panel Incorporating Children’s Literature Into the Classroom.
More than 50 authors will appear at this year’s event including Candace Bushnell, Sue Ellen Cooper, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Jeff Klinkenberg and PBS news anchor Jim Lehrer. Children’s authors scheduled to attend include Carl Hiaasen, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, R.L. Stine and Vivian Vande Velde.
Tampa Bay author Marc Giller will make his first appearance at the festival as a published novelist.
Giller’s “Hammerjack” is a dark, futuristic thriller that fuses detective fiction with cyberpunk. “I’ve enjoyed science fiction ever since I was a kid, and my life revolved around reruns of ‘Star Trek’,” Giller said in a recent e-mail interview. “I also took a sci-fi literature course in college, which expanded on that interest and introduced me to a number of authors I hadn’t read before – everybody from Philip K. Dick to Philip Jose Farmer, which really widened my view on what science fiction was capable of doing.”
Though the author wrote several unpublished novels and dabbled in other genres, his long-standing affection for science fiction finally led him to success. “Hammerjack,” though, started off as a completely different animal.
“It almost didn’t happen that way,” Giller explained. “I had originally envisioned ‘Hammerjack’ as a contemporary thriller, a cautionary tale set in the near-future. A literary agent I knew suggested that I create an entirely new world around the story instead, which would give me a bigger canvas and allow me to do things I could never do in a modern setting. I followed his advice – and the rest, as they say, is history.”
Giller will discuss his work from 2 to 2:45 p.m. in the courtyard. A full schedule of author talks and other festival events can be found at www.festivalofreading.com.
Famous Dead Authors, another popular festival feature, will return this year conjuring up literary icons Lewis Carroll, Emily Dickinson and Zora Neale Hurston.
Meanwhile, the Big Top Story Tent will present children’s book readings throughout the day along with special appearances by Strawberry Shortcake, Bunnicula, Little Critter and Clifford.
Children ages 2 to 10 are invited to register to participate in The Publix Halloween and Storybook Character Contest. R.L. Stein, Miss Teenager USA and Greg Jenkins will judge and select two grand prize winners from both Halloween and Storybook Character Costume categories. Winners will be awarded four Busch Gardens Tickets and a Publix gift certificate. All participants will receive a goody bag filled with prizes. Registration will take place from 10 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at the Publix Tent in Poynter Park.
USF Bayboro is at 140 Seventh Ave. S. Call (800) 333-7505.