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Southwest Florida Reading Festival set for March 20

By Staff | Feb 13, 2010

The Southwest Florida Reading Festival is a little over a month away but is already boasting a star-studded lineup of authors.
Entering its 11th year, this year’s festival will feature acclaimed writers Lisa Scottoline, Chris Claremont and R.L. Stine, among others.
Reading festival coordinator Karen Sloan said that a combination of factors dictate which authors attend each year.
It’s a mix of high circulation numbers for titles, book reviews and reaching out to authors personally at other events like the Book Expo America in New York.
“Sometimes it’s luck of the draw … but we really try. Sometimes we end up heavy on the mystery and thriller genres, but that’s OK, because they’re very popular,” she said.
Now that the festival is more than a decade old, Sloan said the Lee County Library system is trying to figure out how to extend the festival to a week or more.
That’s a long way from its small beginnings, when it was held outside and featured only one big-time author.
Carl Hiassan was the first keynote speaker, and Sloan humorously recalled Hiassan having to speak underneath a tree, instead of having a tent or other conveyance for the author.
“From those humble beginnings we’ve expanded. We’re using the park, and the event center, and increased the number of authors,” she said.
Also in the 2010 line-up are authors Sheramy Bundrick, Tim Dorsey, Sharon M. Draper, Jason Edwards, Lucia M. Gonzalez, James Grippando, Margaret Peterson Haddix, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Lisa Jackson, Robert Macomber, Johanna Moran, Gustavo Bolivar Moreno, Lauren Myracle, Carla Neggers, James O’Neal and F. Paul Wilson.
Sloan said Dorsey has become a perennial favorite at the event, and that the festival and Dorsey’s career have, sort of, grown together.
Dorsey has been involved in 10 of the 11 festivals, from the publishing of first novel “Florida Roadkill.”
“He became a festival staple … we’ve watched his popularity grow nationwide,” she said of Dorsey. “He used to sit on a panel with other authors, but now he fills the room by himself.”
Complete author information, schedules of festival activities, dates of partner events, directions to the event and more, are available for your convenience 24 hours a day at readfest.org or call 239-337-READ (7323) during library operating hours.
The festival is free and open to the public. Tickets are required for some of the author’s presentations, but the tickets are free.
Contact the Lee County Library system for more information.