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Spotlight on Millbrook Literary Festival

Authors flock to Millbrook
by Kevin T. McEneaney
Thu May 19th, 2016

This Saturday the Millbrook Literary Festival recruits writers from near and far. They will speak, debate, sign books, and walk the streets incognito. More writers than listed on the program will likely stroll though. The action will be on Franklin Avenue around the Millbrook Library, which will host indoor talks. The event runs from 10 am to 5 pm.

Lauren Belfer's novel And After the Fire, which treats the past two hundred years of American history, launches this week. Her previous novel A Fierce Radiance was on the New York Times best-seller list and was picked as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. It has been translated into six languages. Genial and witty Kira Wizner, the new owner of Merritt Bookstore, will host a public discussion on fiction with Belfer from 11:15 am to 12:15 am. The Housatonic Camera Club currently hosts an upstairs exhibition at Merritt Bookstore, 57 Front Street.

Since there are a multitude of speakers, the event schedule has been sensibly coded as Adult, Young Adult, and for Children. Topics like screenwriting, comics, and graphic novels will be addressed. Children's author Hans Wilhelm, author of 200 books with more than 42 million books in print, will participate on a panel about picture books. The number and quality of children's authors is a very strong suit at this event. The book and t-shirt "Spanking Shakespeare" by Jake Barnes wll be available.

Between 3-3:45 there will be a Teen Writing Workshop and from 4-5 there will be a panel on marketing teen novels by award-winning novelists. There will be a number of interesting panels about the reading and writing process. The Book Tent for author's autographing will be located on the Library lawn.

At the Millbrook Library the subject of war and surviving veterans will be addressed from a wider historical perspective by Peter Meineck from 1:45-3:15. Meineck, a Classics Professor from York University, has garnered awards for his translations of Greek classics like Aeschylus' Oresteia. So near to Memorial Day, this presents a suitable topic with historical lens.

Noted local authors like Valerie Martin, married to one of the most notable translators in this country (John Cullen), and  Jim DeFelice will appear on panels. Martin has written, among other things, eleven highly acclaimed novels, the most recent of which is The Ghost of the Mary Celeste. DeFelice, author of 15 New York Times best-sellers, enjoyed immense success as co-writer for the memoir American Sniper, made into a film in 2014. A gaggle of talented novelists will be on hand to fill panels, give talks, or opine over tea or gin.

The Millbrook Literary Festival began in 2008, inspired by Merritt Bookstore founder Scott Meyer, who sought to engage the local community, share his love of books and encourage writers. The weather forecast of Spring warmth in the mid-sixties should encourage a gregarious turnout. While there is a chance of light drizzle in the late afternoon, the frenzied taste of Spring will linger in the air. There are plenty of restaurants and places to picnic in Millbrook. See you there! Here's a link to the complete schedule: