Dissing the Wisconsin Book Festival (or bad LaShawn, bad LaShawn for not supporting books like you should!)

The Wisconsin Book Festival was here a couple of weeks ago, and I didn’t go. I just wasn’t interested. Even last year, back when we first moved up here and I first learned about it, it just didn’t grab me.  Not like the Midwest Literary Festival in Aurora, which sadly closed due to low attendance.

Ragging on the Wisconsin Book Festival isn’t fair. How can I criticize something I barely attended? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because the Festival was a week-long event, crammed with so many book readings, it lost me. Or the panels didn’t grab me as particularly interesting for a writer like me. I seem to recall complaining about this last year as well.

As for authors, well, they did bring on Gregory Maguire, who wrote Wicked. I’m not a fan of his novels, but I do like his short stories. The only other author I recognize was Kevin Henkes, and I am bummed about missing him. We’re currently discovering him in our household, and Daniel is becoming a huge fan of his books, all on his own. It would have been neat to take Daniel to meet the creator of his favorite book, "Julius, the Baby of the World", so I could introduce him to the world of writers. Unfortunately, I didn’t even know Henkes was attending the festival, not until I heard from someone else the following week who did attend. So I was bummed.

Perhaps the reason why I didn’t go to the festival is because I’ve grown more selective in what festivals I network at. After all, I’ve been to two cons this year, OdysseyCon and Wiscon. Both are geared towards science fiction and fantasy, genres that I’m developing my writing in. Both deal with the fandom of the genre, which I have more knowledge of, as opposed to say, bass fishing in Wisconsin. Both give me the opportunity to mingle with writers and editors in my field—I’m still blissed out over my chance to meet with the editor from Tor—the Wisconsin book festival seemed more general.

I don’t want to come down hard on the Festival. It does look like a great, well-organized festival, and there were some authors I genuinely wanted to see had I actually made an effort to go see them. But maybe what I need right now is to get more involved in the fandom of the genre I’m writing in.

But I do promise to pay more attention to the Wisconsin Book Festival next year. I really am bummed I missed an opportunity to introduce Daniel to his favorite author. It looks like, however, like some of Kevin Henkes’ artwork, as well as other illustrators, are on display at the Wisconsin Academy until December 6. Looks like I need to arrange for a field trip.

In the meantime, I’m making plans to not only go to Oddcon and Wiscon next year, but I may even squeeze in one more con. I’m thinking World Fantasy 2010. Road trip to Columbus, OH, anyone?


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