Unique book fair showcases Whidbey authors

— Created November 15, 2023 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

If you find joy in giving gifts from Whidbey Island, Sno-Isle Libraries is about to make your day!

Sno-Isle has gathered more than 30 local writers for its first ever Author Book Fair, to be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Clinton Community Hall.

“It will be like a holiday craft market, with books instead of handmade crafts,” said event organizer Katrina Morse, Sno-Isle’s South Whidbey adult services librarian. “Each author will have a table with books for sale and participants will be able to chat with authors about their work.”

There will be musical entertainment and refreshments as well.

“Local musician Andre Feriante will provide background music throughout the event, as well as sell his published poetry collection,” said Morse. “Langley library’s Karen Achabal will create craft mocktails, which will be available free for participants. Karen is a trained chef who worked in Seattle restaurants and forages widely on the island, sometimes providing Orchard Kitchen with foraged ingredients. She just returned from a three-month trip to Europe, and inspiration from her travels will be reflected in her drink selections.”

This free event is geared toward adults. Children are also welcome to attend, but there won’t be children’s activities, per se. As far as what kind of books will be available, Morse said there should be something of interest for anyone, whether people are looking to buy for themselves or as gifts.

“There will be a wide mix of genres and age groups represented, from felt books, picture books, and middle-grade readers for children to adult fiction, memoir, travel, poetry, and Whidbey history. There’s something for everyone,” she said. “All participating authors will sell their books. Some authors will accept cash only, although many will also accept PayPal, Venmo, checks, and credit cards via Square.”

Somer Kreisman Photo Courtesy of Sarri Gilman
Sarri Gilman’s memoir, “Cocoon,” just published in August, is one of several books the Whidbey Island author has written. She is one of several local Whidbey Island authors participating in a book fair Saturday that features at least 30 local writers.

Whidbey Weekly had the opportunity to connect with three of the participating authors via email. All of them said writing is an interest that developed within them at a young age.

“I’ve always been a writer,” said author Sarri Gilman, whose memoir, ‘Cocoon,’ was published in August. “I used to make little books for friends as a kid. I continued that as a teacher for my students. I’ve also always kept journals. I have studied memoir writing and taken writing classes and workshops for more than three decades. I’ve written self-help books on boundaries, self-care and overwhelm recovery and worked on crafting a memoir. My spirit has always been fed by writing. It’s how I digest my experiences. (My next secret wish is to write children’s books and I am finally just beginning that path at age 62.)”

“When I was in fifth grade, my teacher sent a poem of mine to be published in an anthology of student writers, and I was hooked,” shared children’s book author Deb Lund. “But I never felt I’d be good enough to get published. Later, as a teacher, I told myself I didn’t have time to write. Then, when I turned 40 and requested a sabbatical, I was told it had to be directly related to my job. I was an elementary school library media specialist at the time, so writing for kids was a perfect fit. During that sabbatical, I discovered I was pregnant and realized I’d never have time to write, so I might as well get started.”

Photo Courtesy of Eldritch Black
Eldritch Black, author of the “Weirdby Island” young adult/middle grade book series, says half of his readers are adults, and he’s looking forward to meeting some of them at the Author Book Fair Saturday at the Clinton Community Hall.

“When I was very young, maybe five or six years old, I fell in love with a story our teacher read to us about a witch and her cat flying to the moon,” described Eldritch Black, author of the ‘Weirdbey Island’ book series. “The memory of how that experience made me want to write my own stories is still crystal clear after all of these years.”

Black said it took him 37 years to get a book published. His patience paid off. His move to Whidbey Island from the United Kingdom in 2008 has also furnished him with inspiration.

“When you find yourself in a new place and you’re trying to get your bearings, a lot of the things that differ from where you came from can really jump out at you,” he shared. “That’s a real spark for my imagination. I’ve been here for quite a while now and I still find the island to be a very eccentric place at times, which I love. There’s so many beautiful and unusual places that make for perfect backdrops for imaginary adventures.”

“I always say writing is part memory and part imagination — it’s just the ratio that changes,” said Lund, who has written several books with dinosaurs in them. “My book, ‘Monsters on Machines,’ had a higher ratio of memory than the dino books. I grew up with lots of big machinery in our back yard because of my dad’s business. While other kids played in sand boxes, I got to sit on my dad’s lap and dig holes with a real backhoe.

Jamie Farage Photo Courtesy of Deb Lund
Whidbey Island children’s book author Deb Lund will be one of at least 30 local writers participating in Sno-Isle Libraries’ first ever Author Book Fair Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Clinton Community Hall.

“As a K-12 teacher, I’ve seen books make huge differences in many kids’ lives,” she continued. “In addition to helping them discover a love for reading and increasing their chance of future success, books help them see themselves and their experiences with new eyes and learn empathy through the struggles of the characters they come to love.”

“I follow my questions,” Gilman said when asked how she develops her ideas. “Writing is often helpful to me and I ask, ‘How can my writing offer support to others? Would this be a ‘helpful’ book?’ For me, books begin as questions I hear inside, and then I need to research both inside and outside to compose answers. All of my books are connected to similar questions.

“I love sharing stories,” Gilman continued. “I discover things as I write and sometimes feel a spark of light or a kind of luminescence from writing. I think we are all wired to learn through storytelling.” 

For those interested in becoming writers, Black shared this advice:

“Get writing today. Write every day if you can,” he said. “Once you finish your first novel, the next should come to life so much quicker. The more you write, the easier it becomes. Inspiration can strike at any time. Keep a notebook. Write all of your ideas down, even the ones that might not fit with what you’re currently working on, because you might return to them years down the line. I recently completed a fantasy novel with a character and setting that came to me in the early 90s.” 

The authors we spoke with said Saturday’s Author Book Fair appeals to them on many levels.

“It is an honor to be in a book fair. Just say the word ‘book’ and I get tingles,” Gilman said. “Writing is a form of perception and I am so thrilled to be within that world, included, with other writers. [I’m looking forward to] meeting other authors, picking up next reads, meeting readers and signing books. Book signing is very touching, as people share a tiny bit of themselves and talk to me while I sign a book for them. I’m listening. It’s beautiful. The things they share with me are appreciated – it’s a gift.”

“I love this community for its support of the arts, the friendships I’ve made, and the amazing activities and events it inspires,” said Lund. “The local Author Book Fair brings all of that together in one afternoon. Aren’t we lucky!”

“I find these events so much fun and they always inspire me,” Black said. “I’d like to thank all of the wonderful people I’ve met on Whidbey Island, and you never know, you may end up in one of my stories!”

“This event will be a great opportunity to support local talent and purchase holiday gifts and winter reading materials from our Whidbey-based authors,” said Morse. “I don’t know of any other event that will gather our island’s authors together in one place, so this is truly a unique opportunity to experience the richness of our literary landscape.”