Monday, May 25, 2009

Pilcrow Lit Fest: The Aftermath

I wanted to set aside a post just to talk about some of the terrific people I ran into at Pilcrow, because (1) putting them directly into the posts was going to make them very long and confusing and (2) I met a LOT of great people. Just as an aside, I didn't put any more photos in this post because there would have been too many to list. For loads of photos of the entire week of Pilcrow, check out the official site at and their flickr pool.

Again. like I mentioned in an earlier post, this is far from being an exhaustive list, but I thought I'd take a moment to give a shoutout to:

Savannah Scholl Guz, author of the upcoming American Soma, by So New Publishing. Savannah and I got to talk quite a bit about Big Brother, GPS marking, little-agro, The New Yinzer, reviewing reference texts, and dog barfing. We traded recommendations for movies and books, and speaking of recommendations: if you like dystopian social-minded fiction, you're going to love her new book.

Deb Lewis, who made the panel on writing sexuality very comfortable and effective and even went so far as to dig into the work of each author to really get to know us before we came out. Moderating panels is tough enough, but making first-time panelists feel comfortable, especially on a panel about sex writing, takes a really rare sensibility. Deb even introduced me to several of her friends later at Literary Deathmatch and helped me get my bearings about who was who, so a very special thanks to her.

Zach Dodson of Featherproof books, who took a few minutes while we were walking to our transportation to chat with me about their downloadable mini-books. I thought this was a terrific idea and he gave me a little bit of insight into why and how they make these happen. Zach is co-publisher of Featherproof and he moderated the informative book design panel.

Gina Frangello, author and founder of OV (Other Voices). Gina took a few minutes after our panel on writing sexuality to chat with me about her upcoming books and she shared with me that two of her books won Gold IPPY awards this year! Gina was delightful to talk to and I look forward to reading more of her work.

Lenny Kleinfeld and Ina Jaffe, who also stopped briefly after our panel on writing sexuality (of which Lenny was a contributor) and talked about wine and thriller-writing mayhem. Lenny has had some success recently in interesting wine venues in his book, as Shooters and Chasers has as a character an assassin who dreams of making a world-class Syrah. That's a notion I think we can all get behind.

Tim Hall, the moderator of our panel on social and political writing. Sometimes I think being cool and down to earth are like two opposite lines on a graph, but right at the point where those two lines connect is Tim Hall. He kept the social and political writing panel very relevant and interesting despite it being very early and despite me holding up everyone for an extra two minutes while I grabbed a beer. Check out his books here.

Gwenolyn Glover and David De Rosa, who I had the pleasure of chatting with several times over the course of the week and got to eat lunch with on Saturday. They, like me, are just getting connected to the Chicago lit scene, and we had some great conversation about learning how to put books together for the first time, graphics design, and cover design. One of the funniest conversations of the week goes to David, who suggested that if we were all serious about making some money at publishing, we'd all be writing teenage vampire romance serials right about now. This sentiment was echoed by Young Adult panel contributor Daniel Kraus, who says he reads 5-6 novels a week and approximately 70% of it is "vampire fucking".

I got to watch Literary Deathmatch with Suzy T. from the Book Cellar, who aside from being fun to chat with has the coolest business card I've ever seen (a little book!). I also had the pleasure of meeting and talking briefly with Joanna Beth Tweedy (The Yonder Side of Sass and Texas), Drew Ferguson (The Screwed-Up Life of Charlie the Second), and Bobby Biedrzycki (Chicago's rad 2nd Story reading series). and Leah Jones's mom, Linda, who moderated the Young Adult panel.

I'm almost sure I've left a few people out, and if I did I apologize profusely. I have a stack of business cards, bookmarks, book cards, mini-books, mini-catalogs, pamphlets, and stickers to sort through, but most importantly I have a stack of new literary acquaintances that I can't wait to interact with some more.

And of course no account of Pilcrow would be complete without a very warm and heartfelt thanks to the people who invited me: Amy Guth and Leah Jones. It was very much my pleasure, guys, and I can't want to hang out with you again at the next rad Chicago literary event! Printer's Row, anyone? *nudge nudge*

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