I met John Vanderslice, author of Island Fog and professor at UCA, at the Hands On Literary Festival (which just took place in New Orleans).
It was his first time at the festival, and he has since written up his impressions, both of the festival itself and the panel on research that Lania Knight, GM Palmer, and myself presented.
His take on the festival made me very happy, as it described exactly the kind of atmosphere we try to create, one where writers and readers feel encouraged and supported. Where it’s easy to make new friends and share ideas; where, after the four days are over, you feel like you’ve known your fellow attendees for ages.
I’ve discovered a new conference! And it’s in a great city: New Orleans. I traveled down there shortly after Christmas for what, I found out, was only the second running of the Hands On Literary Festival and Masquerade Ball. It could not have been a more pleasant, more friendly, more genial event–aptly organized and warmly administered by New Orleans native Jennifer Stewart-Wallace–and I found it unusually nourishing. First of all, because the conference is only in its second year, it’s still a very manageable size. Only two sessions to choose from for each time section, one being a craft talk and the other a reading, with plenty of time allowed, and occasions provided, for socializing and interacting with new colleagues. And not so many of them that you run into them only once and hurriedly in the hallway of some enormous conference center, or that you can’t remember their names. No, no. The Hands On Festival is a much cozier affair.
You can read John’s full description of the festival here.