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Colorado’s first Book Festival showcases the state’s literary talent

Festival provides a platform to celebrate local authors

Photo courtesy of The Colorado 100

On Saturday, March 3, the fifth and seventh floors of the Denver Central Public Library were filled to the brim with the hushed and introverted excitement of bibliophiles attending the first Colorado Book Festival. Hundreds of locals gathered to support over 100 authors that call Colorado home.

The Colorado Book Festival is the only event of its kind, providing a forum for Colorado authors and writers to showcase their work. Authors totalling 108 gathered between the bookshelves to talk to the general public about their novels, writing practices, and inspirations. Event-goers could network with their favorite authors, attend workshops on reading and writing,  have panel discussions with notable authors, and take a tour of the library.

Whether writers have been self-published or been picked up by a major publishing company, authors in the Colorado Author’s League all received an invitation to bring their work to the festival. Regardless of the subject or theme of their novels or the prestige they’ve received, all authors shared one common thread in their work—inspiration from their own lives in Colorado.

A local author from Bailey, Joy McCalister, was one that brought novels to the event. Her book Raising Timber was published in 2016 and tells the story of young boy named Timber who was struck by lightning and was given incredible powers. Timber also has fetal alcohol syndrome, which parallels with McCalister’s own experience with infant exposure to alcohol.

“You know, coming to a big event like this makes it all feel real,” McCalister said, as she stood by stacks of her book. “It makes you feel like an adult.”

Signs for novels advertising covers of skiing, horseback riding, and travelling across the state surrounded her. From the peaks to the plains, Colorado was the center stage.

One of the keynote speakers of the event was Peter Heller, a New York Times best-selling author. Heller’s novels like The Dog Stars and Celine draw on his love of the wild west feel of Colorado. While reading his favorite scene from Celine, the room fell quiet with the visual poetry the words painted in their description of Colorado life.

Like McCalister, Heller has tapped into his own life to write his novels. His description of the protagonist in Celine is a near doppleganger to his own mother, whom he spent most of his keynote presentation telling the audience about. When discussing any of his novels or his own writing practices, one thing was evident—he is overflowing with the love of his craft. During his Q&A, he described his greatest pieces of advice for college students who are beginning a career in creative writing.

“Find an amount of words or a quota of time you feel like you can do everyday,” said McCalister. “That’s more important than quantity. In college you’re very busy, but if you can find the time to write everyday, do that. And read as much poetry; learning how to use the language is very important.”

Whether an author, a prospective author, or just a fan of books, the Colorado Book Festival offers an inspiring platform for the introverted Coloradans to celebrate their favorite books and authors.

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