Executive Director Daren Wang has overseen the fest since sowing its proverbial seeds less than a decade ago.
“All aspects of it have evolved through the years,” Wang said. “It’s the largest independent book festival in the country and we like to think it’s the best in the country.”
In all, 15 stages of attractions situated amid the environs of downtown — its atmosphere and amenities bolstering the festival’s popularity — will mark the event.
“[Of its kind], it’s the most integrated into its place, its city,” said Wang. “We do all we can to push the authors into the local businesses … you come to this festival, you’re in this great walking town and all the authors are out and about.”
The event affords the area, a residential hotbed of literary luminaries and up-and-coming writers, an opportunity to celebrate its own as well as those hailing from far beyond. Cases in point: new U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, a Decatur resident, will serve as this year’s keynote speaker. Michael Connelly, bestselling author of the Harry Bosch detective novels and
“The Lincoln Lawyer” series, will make his return to the festival since appearing as an invited guest during its inaugural run in 2006. Its “cradle-to-the-grave” model of offerings for the writer — aspiring, emerging or established — is a strength of the festival, Wang said.
Moreover, programming-wise, the book fest aims to accommodate a cross section of fans of major and niche genres, fest officials said.
“As a team in general, we work very hard to think about the wide range of folks coming to the festival,” said program director Terra Elan McVoy.
“Whether it’s a teenager, the young urban professional or retiree, to equally diversify what we’re offering is one of our biggest priorities.
“We’ve got children’s and young adult [fare], science stuff, thrillers, poetry … we’re really trying to cover a wide gamut here.”