Books in Bloom bags best-selling authors

Friday, March 21, 2014

Kathy Reichs. Elizabeth Berg. Terry Brooks. These are three of the authors lined up to appear at this year's Books in Bloom, an annual literary garden party at the Crescent Hotel on May 18. Sponsored by the Carroll and Madison Public Library Foundation, it brings in A-list authors for presentations and conversation with readers.

The secret?

"We're persistent and we start early," said Jean Elderwind, co-chairman.

Last year's Books in Bloom drew standing-room-only crowds to hear Catherine Coulter, author of popular novels and thrillers, and Craig Johnson, author of the Walt Longmire series, talk about the trials and errors of getting a foot in the door of the publishing world. Outside in the hotel gardens, fans lined up to have books signed and talk with guest authors.

This year, the list of guest authors includes Kathy Reichs, a forensic anthropologist and author who is the producer of the "Bones" television series. Reichs is a professor at the University of North Carolina and also works for Quebec's Forensic Sciences and Medicine Laboratory in Montreal. Appearing with Reich is daughter Kerry Reichs, a screenwriter for "Bones."

Also making media headlines: biographer Michael Shelden, whose biography, "Young Titan: The Making of Winston Churchill" is being made into a television program by Julian Fellows of Downtown Abbey. Shelden has also written biographies of George Orwell, Graham Greene and Mark Twain. Originally from Oklahoma, he is a professor at Indiana State University.

Epic fantasy fans will recognize the name of Terry Brooks, author of the Shannara saga and the Landover novels. A former attorney, Brooks has written 23 New York Times best-sellers, has several books optioned for movies or television, and is considered one of the most successful living fantasy writers. Originally from Indiana, he now lives in Seattle.

Elizabeth Berg is a New York Times best-selling author whose novels include "Open House," an Oprah's Book Club selection. Her books have been translated into 27 languages. Three were made into television movies. Originally from St. Paul, Minn., Berg was a registered nurse before her first novel was published in 1993. She now lives in Chicago.

Another reason that Books in Bloom is drawing big-name authors, Elderwind said, is because it is getting a reputation as a gem of a literary festival. And organizers focus on inviting established authors who are more amenable to appearing at events for reasons other than monetary ones.

Books in Bloom is Sunday afternoon, May 18, and is free to attend. Talks are held in the Crescent Hotel conservatory and outdoors, with tents set up in the garden. Guest authors include Civil War historian Mark Christ, medicinal plant and herb authority Steven Foster, and Waterside Kennels mystery series author Susan Holmes. For more information click here.

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