By Katie Benfield
On September 12 through September 16, the Ashe County Arts Council and the Ashe County Public Library will be bringing On the Same Page, a celebration of reading and Ashe County’s literary festival, to the community.
“On the Same Page Literary Festival celebrates reading and writing in the High Country,” Jane Lonon, Executive Director of the Ashe County Arts Council, said. “It’s about getting people reading, getting people talking about what they read, getting people thinking out of the box about what is important, getting people out of their comfort zone, getting people writing about their experiences, giving people knowledge and tools to better express themselves and to pass along the love of reading to the next generation.”
Ever since 2008, when the first Literary Festival took place in West Jefferson, On the Same Page has been doing just that.
The five day event, having evolved over the last ten years, features author readings with Q&A, workshops for writers, an arts in education track with Ashe County Schools, dining events, a Writer’s Competition and numerous other fun events, all connected to and in regards to reading and writing.
This year, in celebration of it being the 10th anniversary of On the Same Page, there will be ten authors present throughout the event.
“While all of our authors have been ‘favorites,’ the ten returning for this anniversary celebration each bring something special to the table,” Lonon said.
The authors involved in this year’s Literary Festival are as follows: Joseph Bathanti (former NC Poet Laureate and Professor at ASU), Mark de Castrique (a mystery writer whose books have you on the edge of your seat!), Georgann Eubanks (Georgann has been with us for NINE of the Festivals!), Tim Gautreaux, Philip Gerard, John Hart, Bob Inman, DG Martin (host of the popular UNC-TV show North Carolina Book Watch, DG is taping a couple of segments for upcoming shows while at the Festival!), Jill McCorkle, and Edward Kelsey Moore (his latest best seller is a sequel to the Festival Read selection in 2015).
“Books tell our stories and give us a history,” Lonon said, “and having a structure to share that and to motivate people to be fully engaged in the dialogue makes us a stronger community.”
All events throughout the five days, except for the meal events, are free for all who wish to attend. There are three writer workshops which require reservations.
Along with this, a new event has been added to the lineup this year called An Author Smorgasbord, held on Wednesday, Sept. 13, which will feature 5 authors in a round-robin table luncheon. The cost is $15, and the deadline to register for this particularly unique event ends on September 13.
On Friday evening, September 15, at 7:30 p.m., there will be a Telling Stories Live event at the Ashe Arts Center. It will feature Phillip Gerard with both author readings and music. The winner of the Page Crafter Award for the Writers Competition will also be announced at this event.
These are only a few events that On the Same Page has to offer those who participate — there are so many opportunities and events to get involved in, so don’t miss out on this awesome opportunity to meet and learn more about reading, writing and authors.
“Our Festival is not huge, so the events are a manageable size so that participants and authors alike feel connected to each other,” Lonon said. “There is time for questions and dialogue, and it is a time to meet new friends who all share a love of good literature.”
For reservations or more information, contact the Ashe County Arts Council at 336.846-2787 or visit the On the Same Page website.
The Festival Schedule is as follows:
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12
Festival Read Wrap-up Session – Dr. Antonio Bly leads a lively discussion of this year’s Festival Read, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. 3 pm at Ashe County Public Library
10th Anniversary Page Turners Kick-off Reception – 2017 Page Turner Members will enjoy refreshments and live music to celebrate 10 years of good reading and writing in the High Country. Reservations required. 6:30 pm at Ashe Arts Center
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13
“Work in Progress” Workshop with Georgann Eubanks – This session is for writers of any genre who want a critique of 2 to 3 pages of their work. Participants will learn how to give and receive helpful criticism and will have the opportunity to read their work and get feedback. Registration is limited, and a reservation is required. 8:30 – 10:30 am at Ashe County Public Library
Robert Inman – Author of The Governor’s Lady, Inman’s presentation is sponsored by the Friends of the Ashe County Public Library. 11 am at Ashe County Public Library
Author Smorgasbord! – Enjoy informal discussions with authors at a round-robin luncheon. Sign up to chat with authors Eubanks, Gautreaux, Inman, McCorkle, and Kelsey Moore. Nominal fee; reservation required. 12:30 pm at West Jefferson United Methodist Church’s Hensley Hall
“Short Story Beginnings” Workshop with Tim Gautreaux – Join master storyteller Tim Gautreaux in a free-for-all workshop focused on where stories come from, how to develop them from a single opening sentence, and how listening to music while writing can affect your narrative. Registration is limited, and a reservation is required. 6:30 – 8:30 pm at Ashe Arts Center
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14
Jill McCorkle – The author shares stories about her career writing novels, short stories, essays, and the rollicking play, “Good Ol’ Girls.” McCorkle will also read from her poignant latest novel, Life After Life. 10 am at Ashe County Public Library
Joseph Bathanti – North Carolina’s 2012 Poet Laureate and award-winning author of novels, non-fiction, and poetry is the professor any student of good writing would love to have. Join Joseph for readings and commentary. 1 pm at Ashe County Public Library
Tim Gautreaux – The author shares stories from the bayous of his native Louisiana and from his new collection of short stories, Signals. 3 pm at Ashe County Public Library
Edward Kelsey Moore – The author reads from The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues, his new novel that follows his much-loved debut that was featured as 2015’s OTSP Festival Read. 7:30 pm at Ashe Arts Center
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15
D.G. Martin – Join the host of UNC TV’s “North Carolina Bookwatch” and author of the brand-new North Carolina’s Roadside Eateries. D.G. takes us to restaurants across the state where good food is a source of community pride. 10 am at Ashe County Public Library
Literary Trails Luncheon – Georgann Eubanks gives us a preview of her upcoming book, The Month of Their Ripening: North Carolina Heritage Foods. Boxed lunches, nominal charge, reservation required. 12 pm at Ashe County Public Library
Mark de Castrique – Join the author of thrillers set in Asheville and in Washington, DC. De Castrique is also an Emmy Award winner for his documentary film work. 2 pm at Ashe County Public Library
Telling Stories Live with Philip Gerard – Enjoy an evening of good music and good storytelling. Philip will share stories from his novels along with songs and instrumental favorites as accompaniment. The winning entry of the 2017 Page Crafters Award will be read. 7:30 pm at Ashe Arts Center
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 16
“Finding Your Audience: Best Practices for Submitting Your Work to Editors” Workshop with Jill and Philip Gerard – Learn how to choose which work to send out, where to send it, and what the protocol is. The Gerards offer an editor’s eye view and explain how publishing decisions are made. Registration is limited, and a reservation is required. 8:30 am at Ashe County Public Library
John Hart – With five novels to his name, John talks about life as a reliably best-selling author following careers as a stockbroker and a criminal defense lawyer. Join John for this closing event of the 2017 OTSP Festival. 10:30 am at Ashe County Public Library