Winsome writers and rabid readers flock to festival

| 20 Sep 2017 | 01:32

By Marilyn Rosenthal
— Rachel Robinson and her husband Steve Dixon, both young attorneys from the Washington, D.C., area, drove 600 miles round trip to get to the Milford Readers and Writers Festival.
They are both Jack Reacher fans, and learned about the Festival on author Lee Child's website. They attended all of the festival events, starting with the play "Love Letters" on Friday night. Rachel and Steve thought it was very moving and beautiful.
"It was worth every mile," Steve said.
The 500-plus attendees were inspired and amazed at the stature guest speakers who accepted invitations to "this precious little town of Milford," as some called it. Patricia Bosworth, prominent biographer and memoirist, was interviewed by the spunky Martha Frankel, host of Woodstock Booktalk and the Executive Director of Woodstock Bookfest. Then there was Robin Morgan, journalist, activist, editor, and author, who conducted a scintillating political discussion with Farai Chideya, soon to become journalism program officer at the Ford Foundation.
Before a full house, bestselling author Lee Child discussed book publishing in the digital age with Stephen Rubin of Henry Holt Publishing. Lillian Longendorfer led the Science Fiction/Fantasy session, which was capped by a tour of the Virginia Kidd Literary Agency for Science Fiction, right at the very end of Harford Street in Milford.
In addition to these illustrious and ticketed sessions, there were a goodly number of well-attended free sessions. These catered to children and young adults, poetry lovers, and travel writers and readers on Saturday.
On Sunday, the Fauchere's Executive chef, Michael Glatz, had a delicious conversation with culinary historian Prof. Paul Freeman about the legendary restaurant Delmonico's in New York.
Frank talk about women and writingTwo filled-to-the –brim panels on Sunday were Artists Who Write About Art, moderated by Maleyne Syracuse of Peters Valley School of Craft, and Women Writing Their Lives, presented by Amy Ferris and moderated by Brooke Warner, publisher of She Writes Press.
In the first of these sessions, the room was alive with both artists and writers. Thanks to Syracuse, said one audience member, the conversation between the artists and writers was so much more real and satisfying than the usual Q&A format.
The second session included a frank conversation about women and their writing — about the creative process, the fear of failure, and, partially, the fear of success. They talked about the challenges of being a woman writer and the need for just putting one foot in front of the other and becoming better on the way to getting there.
Amy Ferris, a founding board member of the festival, put the women's panel together; she has held similar panels in Mexico and other places. Her dream is to "take it around the world."
People were sitting on the floor because it was so crowded. If the overwhelmingly positive response to this session was any indication, Ferris will be traveling a lot.
Pike Artworks is the umbrella nonprofit for the festival. Many volunteers stepped up to make it all happen.
"Everyone had a job," said Edson Whitney, chair of the board and organizing committee.
He seemed to have several. It was as if he had cloned himself — he was everywhere, stopping in at each session, making sure all was going according to plan.
Ferris was like a beacon for the festival, enticing so many world-class authors and artists, from as far away as Boston and California, to participate.
The only remaining question is about next year's festival:
How are they going to top this one?