“Lose yourself in books” is the motto of the Savannah Book Festival, and it’s certainly possible to do exactly that.
The 2017 festival will celebrate its 10th year with more participating authors. Started in 2008, the festival was small but promising.
“I had a sense at that first festival that this was going to be a major thing, not just in the state of Georgia, but all through the Southeast,” says author Terry Kay, whose new novel is “The King Who Made Paper Flowers.”
“The Savannah Book Festival is one of the very best,” says bestselling author James Patterson. “And I’ve seen them all.”
The festival has featured bestselling authors like Patterson, Stephen King and David Baldacci; Pulitzer Prize-winners Garry Wills, Geraldine Brooks and Isabel Wilkerson; National Book Award winners Ben Fountain and Colson Whitehead; and even a Nobel Prize laureate in Al Gore.
Read interviews with this year's Savannah Book Festival authors here.
The festival includes three ticketed events and a full day of free author lectures, meet and greets and book signings from Feb. 16-19.
The opening address will feature Patterson at 6 p.m. on Feb. 16. Whitehead will present the keynote address at 6 p.m. Feb. 17. Both these events are already sold out.
Christina Baker Kline, author of “Orphan Train,” will present the closing address at 3 p.m. Feb. 19. All addresses will be presented at Trustees Theater.
The free Festival Day will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 18 in and around Telfair, Wright and Chippewa squares. For the complete schedule and information about book signing procedures, go to savannahbookfestival.org.
“They tell us we have a jewel in the ambiance of this city and that we should use that to our advantage,” says festival board member Ann Higbee. “They love being in historic squares, sanctuaries and theaters.
“There’s always a fine line between growing and keeping your personality,” she says. “Year after year, what we put together is so different and so unusual and so distinctive from anything we experience anywhere else.”
This year’s festival pays tribute to the more than 400 authors who have participated in the festival over the past decade.
“One of the goals I had coming in was to diversify the slate of authors,” says Kim Bockius-Suwyn, the festival’s executive director. “I wanted an array of genre, gender, background and age. This year, we have a lot of really great authors and a lot more dynamic, up-and-coming authors.”
In addition to bestselling authors, local and regional authors are invited to participate in the festival. The Savannah Theatre has also been added as a venue to expand the festival.
A new lunch schedule has been introduced to allow participants to pick and choose when and where they want to eat, with staggered hours at each location.
There will be food trucks around Telfair Square. Participants can also choose from concessions at Savannah Theatre and sit-down meals at the many restaurants in the area.
“We estimate we’ll have around 10,000 people and if you add it up, there are 16,000 seats available,” Bockius-Suwyn says. “It’s a crazy day, but it’s fun.”