Book lovers from far and wide will again descend on Winston-Salem Saturday for the state’s largest annual free book festival, Bookmarks Festival of Books.
Bookmarks Executive Director Ginger Hendricks says that about 8,000 book lovers are expected at the Festival, which will be staged at venues throughout the downtown Arts District from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. More than 45 authors are expected to be in attendance. They will autograph their books, talk with fans and lead workshops.
“We have current New York Times Bestselling authors like Gillian Flynn and Kay Hooper and Pulitzer Prize Winner Tony Horwitz, and we have people’s favorites like (fiction writer) Tayari Jones,” Hendricks said. “It’s a chance to be able to meet those folks and talk with them about their ideas and their processes. I think it’s just a gift to the city and a gift to the literary arts in general.”
The day before the Festival, organizers will deploy more than 30 authors to schools across the city to interact with a students of all ages as part of the Authors in Schools initiative.
Festival offerings include several new components, including a concert by singer/storyteller John McCutcheon and a Spanish-only
presentation by Cuban-born Author Carlos Alberto Montaner, whose latest book is “La mujerdel coronel.”
The UNC School of the Arts will be well represented at the Festival this year, thanks to the presence of two longtime professors: Ron Stacker Thompson, an accomplished producer, writer and director, and Dr. Joseph Mills, who also serves as Poet-in-Residence at Salem College.
Clarksville, Tenn.-born Thompson is one of a handful of African American Bookmarks authors or presenters that will be highlighted this year. The 68 year-old will conduct a 2 p.m. workshop on “The Bare Basics of Screenwriting” at the Trade Street Stage. Thompson, who has written, produced and directed for film and stage, has a long list of credits that include “America’s Dream,” a film he co-produced starring Wesley Snipes and Danny Glover. He also was involved in the production of Oscar-nominated “Grand Canyon” and “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.”
The NAACP Image and Audelco Award winner says he will focus on the fundamentals of writing for film during his 45 minute workshop.
“What I want to do is give people a sense of what screenwriting is as opposed to what other writings are about,” explained Thompson, who is married to the popular jazz singer Cle Thompson. “People don’t always understand how a screenplay is a whole different animal. Often, people think a screenplay is like a play, and it’s not.”
Thompson said he is eager to share the wisdom he’s gained from a writing career that has spanned more than four decades with his workshop participants.
“I generally like doing workshops because people come there ready to learn – they’re hungry, they’re ready and they want to know,” he remarked. “…I want them to understand the power that they possibly have in writing, in creating, in telling their stories and that it’s a responsibility. If you really take it seriously, you want to put something out, you want to say something, and that’s the power that you have as a writer.”
Thompson is an avid non-fiction reader.
“Mainly what I create is fiction, but I mostly interested in reading non-fiction,” he said. “It informs my fictional characters.”
Mills, a native of Fort Wayne, Ind., will be Thompson’s predecessor at the Trade Street Stage, with his 1 p.m. presentation, “How to Wield a Knife: Editing Your Own Poetry.”
“I think one of the most important things in poetry is to be able to make it concise,” said Mills, who has published four poetry books to date. “My poems seem fairly simple, and some of them are simple and casual, but it takes a lot of work to make it sound simple and casual. That sort of self-surgery is one of the hardest things to do, and it takes a long time (to master).”
Mills holds the Susan Burress Wall Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities and teaches a range of curriculums, from Studies in American Humor to modern fiction and contemporary poetry. Mills is a longtime proponent of the Bookmarks Festival. He and his wife, Danielle Tarmey, were featured at a previous Bookmarks Festival, showcasing “A Guide to North Carolina’s Wineries,” the book they co-authored.
“Bookmarks is really great. It’s an amazing festival,” he remarked. “The number of writers and the quality of writers is incredible. It always astounds me the writers that they bring in.”
The father of two said he is excited to return as a workshop presenter this year.
“It feels great,” he said of the Festival. “I love being a part of it.”
For more information about Bookmarks, including a full schedule and list of authors, visit HYPERLINK “http://www.bookmarksbookfestival.org” www.bookmarksbookfestival.org. For more information about Mills or to follow his blog, visit HYPERLINK “http://www.josephrobertmills.com” www.josephrobertmills.com.