The question from a friend seemed innocent enough: “Would you be willing to work with me and some other writers to plan a literary festival?” My positive response rose from that blissful place of ignorance. A few weeks later, I naively made the twenty-minute ferry trip to neighboring Orcas Island to meet (and be elected to) the board of the embryonic festival.
That was about eight months ago. After this past weekend’s inaugural Orcas Island Literary Festival, the ignorance has been replaced by experience, but the bliss remains.
Today, I’ve returned to the quiet and calm of my writing desk to reflect on the journey of organizing, and participating in, a literary festival. It began, as so many meaningful life events do, with a walk.
Lit Walk – authors read and chatted at a variety of venues throughout Eastsound Village. The Olympic Mountains’ “rain shadow” didn’t protect us from April showers, but storytelling, poetry, essays, and food and drink cloaked us. It turned out to be a luck- and fun-filled Friday the 13th.
Twin Peaks: Black Box and Center Stage – The Orcas Center theaters pulled everyone to new heights with panels discussing home, humor, landscapes, suspense-thrillers, memoir, food, and turning books into film.
Interviews with bestselling and award-winning authors revealed some of the stories behind the stories.
Kids Read (and Write) Too – The Lit Fest Family Fest (free, thanks to partners and sponsors) encouraged all ages to venture into the world of words.
Refueling at the Book Fair and Bistro – Trekking literary territory is invigorating and demanding. The Madrona Room and lobbies at Orcas Center replenished us with good food, coffee, small presses, local goods, performances, and bookseller extraordinaire, Darvill’s Bookstore.
Battle of the Genres – The only “conflict” throughout this expedition was all in fun, late on Saturday night. Trivia, improv, and puns marked good-humored competition among poets, YA (young adult) authors, and writers of thrillers. Local wine, beer, and sweet and savory snacks kept energy up.
As with all exhilarating outings, I’m eager to explore other trails we bypassed this year and to revisit the ones we followed. I’ll have that chance soon. On Monday, the board members will convene by conference call to begin work on next year’s festival.