A little more than an hour north of Atlanta, the legendary gold-panning town of Dahlonega, Georgia really shined this past weekend when hosting its 2014 Dahlonega Literary Festival. Saturday’s warm spring weather was a sunny contrast to the chilly fall that greeted me the last time I attended the festival.
It was fun to catch up at lunch with wonderful Southern Spines authors Ann Hite (The Storycatcher), Erika Marks (The Guest House) and Renea Winchester (In the Garden with Billy). I also met children’s picture book authors Rosalind Bunn and Kathleen Howard, two Georgia school teachers who collaborated on Sophie May and the Shoe Untying Fairy and The Butter Bean Lady.
After lunch, I attended the panels on fantasy and speculative fiction and using humor in fiction. The panels were fantastic, although a bit overcrowded with authors. The hour-long discussions could only accommodate 3-4 questions because both panels were comprised of seven authors, each with wonderful information and anecdotes to share. I could have listened to Jackie K. Cooper, Raymond Atkins, Charles McNair and Terry Kay hold court for the better part of the day.
A darkened coffeehouse served as the perfect place to get to know multi-genreational (yes, I just made that term up) author Delilah S. Dawson (Wicked After Midnight) and James R. Tuck, the tattoo artist and photographer responsible for penning the Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty Hunter series (Special Features). My friend, Joshilyn Jackson, was there to talk about her latest novel, Someone Else’s Love Story, which is partially set in Dahlonega. And I had a few minutes to get reacquainted with Kim Boykin (The Wisdom of Hair) and catch a glimpse of her next book cover for the August release, Palmetto Moon.
For every author that I saw, there were at least two whom I only met in passing (I’m thinking of you, Deanna Raybourn) or didn’t have an opportunity to talk to for very long in between sessions (howdy, Scott Thompson). In its tenth year, the Dahlonega Literary Festival seems to be hitting its stride. Readers fanned out from crowded classrooms and two of my favorite booksellers, Ellen and Gary from FoxTale Book Shoppe, were busy doing the Lord’s work in the festival’s makeshift bookstore. Kudos to organizers Carole and Arienne and all the volunteers whose hard work made for a fun weekend in Dahlonega.