As soon as I post these remarks this morning, I’ll plunge in on the work necessary to put on the Sedona Book Festival tomorrow. Since it hasn’t happened yet, I can’t post pictures from this year’s event, but I can post some from earlier years.
I’ve actually been hard at work on Festival-related activities all week. Earlier in the week, I visited the concierges of some fifty hotels to drop off flyers. How a small town with only ten thousand people can possibly have fifty hotels — and I may have even missed a few — is another issue. Clearly, tourism thrives here. But so does an excitement for books. While admittedly some of the people I talked to seemed to find it hard to believe anyone could care that much about books, and others couldn't imagine what form it would take... ("So, how does this work? Do people just bring books to it?" one concierge asked.) Many of the staffers and guests I spoke to about the SBF seemed eager to take part.
Book Festivals in this part of the country have largely gone the way of the dodo bird, but here in Sedona, our fabulous one-day event continues to thrive. And it’s attracted some great speakers. Last year the gracious Anne Hillerman, daughter of the late Tony Hillerman and the author of Spider Woman's Daughter, was our keynote speaker. Anne and her photographer husband, Don Strel, presented a slide show, “Tony Hillerman’s New Mexico,” a beautifully picturesque and sentimental journey to some of the spots readers have come to love in Mr. Hillerman’s books.
Another earlier speaker was Diana Gabaldon, the engaging author of the bestselling Outlander series. She shared how she came to create the series that not only thrills readers throughout the world, but which is now also a successful TV series.
In earlier years we’ve also had cooking demonstrations, by popular local author-chefs, such as Jeff Smedsted, owner-chef of the Elote Café, one of the more popular Sedona restaurants, and the author of the Elote Café Cookbook. Along with great how-to writing talks, some of which I've given myself. This year sixty-plus local and regional authors are the stars, with more than twenty speaking throughout the day.
Whether I’m there as an organizer or an author, what always cheers me about any book festival is that so many people come out celebrate a love of the written word, something too many people believe is passé.