Festival goers, panelists, authors do not shy away from tough topics
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Grand Rapids, MI- From #Me Too movement to women in Christian publishing, everything was up for discussion at the Festival of Faith & Writing at Calvin College last week.
Publishers, lecturers and authors came from all over the country and represented a diverse cross-section of literature.
The exhibit hall, located in the Prince Conference Center, was home to 46 booths filled with publishing houses, small presses, journals, booksellers, editors and agents.
“The Publicity Confidential: What Authors and Publicists Wish Each Other Knew” was an eye-opening session in an era of publicity stunts and media blitz.
“You have to own it from the very beginning,” said one of the panelists. “Audio magazines or podcasts are taking over.”
Piggybacking off keynote speaker Kwame Alexander, the panel of publicists agreed on one thing: “Say yes to everything.”
In the entire publicity process, the author needs to be herself or himself, fully engaged and present, according to the publicists.
“The goal of publicity is letting the market know that the book exists,” said Kelly Hughes. “Start a podcast to expand your platform. Don’t get hung up on reviews.”
The panelists recommended writing guest blogs, op-ed pieces, radio tours and speaking engagement in church groups, women’s groups and to others within their author’s tribe.
“The ideal author is game for anything, wants to collaborate, thinks big, but realistic, and is accessible,” said Jennifer Grant.
Film & play
This category was represented by producer Abigail Disney & screenwriter and playwright Dorothy Fortenberry. Both women likened the current creative environment in Hollywood to building a new structure out of flawed legos.
“A common lego we use is when someone’s life is endangered,” said Disney. “We have a flawed dynamic. Only 30 percent of writers in Hollywood are women. They have to be tough.”
Fortenberry said she has to spend a lot of time unlearning.”
Dutch screenwriter and director Jaap van Heusden discussed the adaptation of Flannery O’Connor’s short story “The Lame Shall Enter First” in his film “De Verloren Zoon.”
“Writing is the means, not the end,” van Heusden said. “Film is the art of all the things that are not there. My process is finding stories.”
Just because your mother dies, doesn’t mean your relationship ends.
In “Daughters Writing about Mothers,” four writers explored the complex relationships with their mothers, further complicated by a reversal of roles, as the parent ages.
Angela Alaimo tracked the journey of a broken relationship between her young widowed mother to final reconciliation.
Why Don’t Men Read Women Writers? Closing the Gender Gap in Christian Publishing
According to panelist Al Hsu’s doctoral research, women read relatively equally between male and female authors, whereas men are much more likely to read male authors than female authors (90%/10%)
Is it a matter of supply and demand?
Keynote speaker, Edwidge Danticat
Danticat, a Haitian-American novelist and short story writer, took center stage at Van Noord Arena on Friday.
“I create dangerously for people who read dangerously.”
Writing the Wrinkles in Time
Special guests at this conversation were Madeline L’Engle’s granddaughters Lena Roy and Charlotte Jones Voiklis, co-authors of “Becoming Madeleine: A Biography of the Author.
Sarah Arthur, author of the forthcoming “A Light So Lovely: The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L’Engle, moderated the session.
A movie with the same title “A Wrinkle in Time” (2018) directed by Ava DuVerney is now playing in theatres.
“We were fascinated by the drama of her childhood,” said Roy. “She was dumped off at an austere boarding school in Switzerland.”
The next FFW will take place on April 16-18, 2020 in Grand Rapids, MI.
Featured image: Madeleine L’Engle’s granddaughters: Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Lena Roy.
For podcasts from the festival go to Rewrite Radio at http://festival.calvin.edu/podcast
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