50 regional authors to be featured at inaugural book fair

CULLOWHEE – About 50 regional authors will gather in Sylva to sell and sign their books at the inaugural Great Smoky Mountains Book Fair on Saturday, Nov. 20.

Set for 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., the book fair will be held in the Jackson County Justice Center, located on Grindstaff Cove Road in Sylva. The fair is a joint project of the Friends of the Jackson County Library, Western Carolina University’s Honors College and City Lights Bookstore of Sylva. Proceeds from the event will go toward the building fund for the new Jackson County Library.

Brian Railsback, interim dean of Western’s Honors College, called the book fair “a super book store with all the authors” and said it will include writers representing the many genres of literature, including children’s books, cook books, poetry, fiction and non-fiction.

“This is an exciting partnership between the students of the Honors College, the Jackson County Library and county officials, the Jackson County Arts Council, and, of course, Joyce Moore and the staff of City Lights Bookstore,” Railsback said. “I hope we can all build on this fair for years to come.”

Several special presentations are scheduled, including author and naturalist Ila Hatter of Robbinsville at 10 a.m.; author and storyteller George Singleton of Easley, S.C., at 11 a.m.; and Marshall Chapman, a musician and writer from Nashville, Tenn., at 1 p.m.

Hatter, a staff instructor for the University of Tennessee ‘s Smoky Mountain Field School, has more than 25 years of experience in teaching others about the cultural heritage of native plants. Singleton, author of “Why Dogs Chase Cars,” writes short stories that regularly appear in national magazines such as Atlantic Monthly and Harper’s. Chapman, a rock music guitarist, is an example, as one reviewer stated, “of the triumph of rock ‘n’ roll over good breeding.” She will play some guitar and read from her memoir, “Goodbye, Little Rock and Roller.”

A “Poetry Hour” hosted by Kathryn Stripling Byer will begin at 2 p.m., and a reception will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. Also, Toot and Puddle will provide games and storytelling for children from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Railsback said organizers hope the book fair will become an annual event. About 50 Honors College students are involved in the project, led by students Tyler Melton, Brittany McManus and Amber Rhodes.

For more information about the Great Smoky Mountains Book Fair, contact the Honors College at (828) 227-7383 or City Lights Bookstore at (828) 586-9499.