Sparks highlight of annual Book Fest

Author Nicholas Sparks visited the Southern Kentucky Book Festival on Saturday at the Carroll Knicely Conference Center on South Campus. Sparks was one of over 100 authors who attended.

Kevin Allen

Lovers of literature lined up to listen and talk to their favorite authors last weekend at the 13th annual Southern Kentucky Book Fest.

The event featured presentations from authors known throughout the region and nation, including Nicholas Sparks, author of novels such as “The Notebook” and “A Walk to Remember.”

Throughout the day on Saturday, rows of authors sat at tables signing and selling their books and talking with fans and other authors who walked by.

Sharon Grove junior Zoe Pettit said she has attended the festival three times.

“It’s always a good experience in my world,” Pettit said. “Just being able to walk around and seeing a book you’ve never read before and being able to look at it and go, ‘This looks interesting,’ then having the author tell you about it.”

The relationships that develop between readers and authors at the event are interesting, Pettit said.

“When I was younger, I came to one and had the author send me an additional book because I made such an impression on them,” Pettit said.

It’s also great for the authors to meet and talk to fans and fellow authors, said psychological thriller writer J.T. Ellison.

“It’s actually been really great – there has been a lot of people here,” Ellison said. “I think a lot of people came to see Nick Sparks, a lot of people to see Jean Auel. I got to see Jean Auel, who is one of my heroes. I rank it up there very high.”

The festival started on Friday with a children’s day for grade schoolers to hear authors read aloud from their books, in addition to a writers conference to help guide aspiring authors.

Chuck Sambuchino, editor for Writer’s Digest Books and author of “How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack,” said he was excited about the book fest and writer’s conference.

“The most notable thing about the Kentucky Writers Conference is that it’s free,” Sambuchino said. “I’ve been to 50 writer’s conferences over the past four years, and I’ve never seen one that is free. That is amazing.”

Sambuchino encouraged people to come next year because there’s something for both writers and readers, and it’s both helpful and fun.