Talk of the Towne
Big Orange Book Festival 2013

Mention Orange County and many people envision amusement parks, the beach and reality television shows. Certainly not literature. At Chapman University’s 2nd Annual Big Orange Book Festival (BOB), show organizers and attending authors are working to alter that stereotype.

Inspired by the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the free three-day literary event will feature national, international and local authors and include programs, panels and special activities appealing to readers, writers, film buffs and families.

“In the midst of post-citrus urbanism, the intellectual life of Orange County is often overlooked, but Southern California is a much richer literary territory than the image would have you believe,” says Tom Zoellner, who participated in the festival last year. He is associate professor of English at Chapman and a bestselling nonfiction author of several books, including A Safeway in Arizona.

“We have many authors and readers here, and Southern California is fertile ground for great storytelling,” says Zoellner. “I teach the class “Writing Southern California,” and we cover the work of literary giants who came out of this region, including Raymond Chandler, Joan Didion and poet Wanda Coleman, who appeared at last year’s festival. BOB is a wonderful way to showcase this continuing literary heritage.”

Big Orange Book Festival 2013

Select to view the Chapman University Happenings blog on this year's Big Orange Book Festival.

Attending the event is an excellent opportunity to become familiar with the many talented authors right in our own backyard, agrees the event’s co-director Char Williams, manager of Administrative Operations, Strategic Marketing and Communications at Chapman.

“We have a wide variety of talented authors coming to speak and are adding speakers every day, such as Marcia Clark, who was the head prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder case,” says Williams. Clark’s book about the case, Without a Doubt, was a bestseller in 1997. More recently, she has written a crime novel series.

Also attending and speaking are romance novelists Susan Squires and Tessa Dare, humorist Kevin Fagan, creator of the nationally syndicated cartoon strip, “Drabble;” science fiction writer and fiction/nonfiction author and scriptwriter , whose television credits include “The Dead Zone.”

Event organizers are repeating the popular show format from last year, which consists of various literature tracts, including romance and crime and science fiction and steampunk. They added at the request of last year’s attendees a home and family tract and panels on the business side of writing. They’re also including an author’s pavilion where local and self-published authors can sell their books, as well as do readings.

Old Towne novelist and Chapman English professor James Blaylock, one of the creators of the steampunk genre, spoke to a crowd of more than 200 people at last year’s festival with fellow steampunk pioneer Tim Powers

“I enjoyed our panel and the others I attended, as well as the booths selling books and the readings,” says Blaylock. “I heard Mary Badham (Scout in the movie “To Kill a Mockingbird”) speak, and she was incredibly good -- very down-home and authentic. I’m anticipating an even better festival this year.”

The Big Orange Book Festival will be held from October 11-13th. For more information, visit bigorangebookfestival.com.

Published in the Sep/Oct 2013 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review

Written by Julie Bawden-Davis, Visual provided by Chapman University

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