festivals and events ::
:: the st. petersburg
:: festival of reading
The 12th Annual
St. Petersburg Times
Festival of Reading
Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, Florida
Held on the Eckerd College campus and sponsored by the Times,
this event begins at 10 a.m. and lasts until late afternoon. The
festival offers regional and national publishers an opportunity
to bring newly released books to the Outdoor Festival Marketplace.
Invited authors in past years have included Connie May Fowler,
author of Before Women Had Wings, Haines Johnson, Rick
Bragg, and previous years included music, readings, and children's
On a campus in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, this book festival
provides waterfront views and notable authors. It is held in November
but Florida's erratic heat often provides sultry weather so dress
in light layers for this one: for writers, booksellers and book
lovers. Check early with hotels and B&Bs - they quickly fill
up during the season.
For details, visit the conference site. St.
Petersburg Times Festival of Reading.
an excerpt from a previous interview with SPT's book editor:
Margo Hammond discussed her experiences as a newspaper columnist
and book editor. She comments on her philosophy about writing,
writers, and the book industry.
(Updated rom a previous WS edition.)
Editor Margo Hammond on books, writers,
and the craft.
we get to questions on writing and publishing, first a question
about the St. Petersburg Times Festival of Reading. The
festival quickly achieved popularity during the first years and
draws more than 20,000 participants each year. What are you planning
for the next few years to keep it vital and attractive?
Hammond: The Times Festival
of Reading is now in its 12th year. This year the festival
will again be in November and offer a variety of programs.
As for expansion, we are hoping one day to have another festival,
perhaps at another time of the year, somewhere in the northern
counties. The location is undetermined yet, but the University
of South Florida is a possibility or maybe in Clearwater.
When I started this project, newspaper didn't sponsor book fairs
or festivals. The Washington Post and the New York Times had author
luncheons, and there were newspapers that were affiliated with
festivals, but we were the first to actually put on our own event.
I patterned it after the Miami book fair, a street fair that draws
all economic levels.
What type of individual does it attract--writers, students,
Margo Hammond: The festival attracts a high quality audience
-- our core readers. It is filled with people who are open to
ideas and who are not necessarily would-be writers as much as
they are consummate readers. And they read newspapers. Nationally
recognized authors who participate in this festival say they get
a high caliber of questions from our festival audiences. The festival
is especially popular with NPR (National Public Radio) listeners.
What was your position prior to book editor of the St. Petersburg
Margo Hammond: I was a travel writer and freelance writer
in New York. I thought I'd be here for a few years to take a break
from what I was doing--traveling. When I told my New York friends
I applied for the job they told me I'd be back. I planned to take
the job and stay for about three years. I've been here since 1990.
Is there a book in your future, and if so fiction or nonfiction?
Margo Hammond: Lots of book ideas go through my mind, but
the best reason I have for not writing is in a book written
by Marcel Benabou. The book talks about all the reasons
people procrastinate, and the reasons they find not to write.
Its title is, Why I Have Not Written Any of My Books.
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