It’s been about fifteen years since I first attended the St. Petersburg Times Festival of Reading. I was a rookie reporter then, just a lowly correspondent and occasional book reviewer for the newspaper. One of the perks was getting invited to the Festival parties and meeting some of my favorite writers at the time — James W. Hall and Kinky Friedman.
In college, I’d been crazy about Hall’s gritty and quirky Florida noirs about a Keys beach bum named Thorn. Hall is one of those terrific Florida crime writers who can wrap a hell of a social message in a terrifically entertaining novel. His books were funny and weird with some of the best villains I’d encountered since Ian Fleming. He was gracious enough to answer a lot of questions from a 25-year-old aspiring novelist. A lot of what he told me helped shape my career.
I’ll get to spend some time with Hall again this weekend — at the 19th Annual Festival of Reading. This time I’m honored to be one of the featured authors.
This is one of the last great book festivals in the country and I look forward not only to speaking but listening to many of my of my new favorite authors including the great Connie May Fowler.
Go to the festival site for more on times and authors. I’ll start up at 11. a.m. This is my first trip back in many years to the place where I started my career.