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March 21, 2019

Author Roberta Gately Reports on the Colorado Book and Arts Festival

Posted by tom

On March 16th, the Arvada Center for the Arts and Regis University partnered with the Tattered Cover Book Store to present the first-ever Colorado Book and Arts Festival, a one-day literary arts festival that celebrates books, art and music for the entire family. Among the 40 authors in attendance was Roberta Gately, a nurse whose first two books --- LIPSTICK IN AFGHANISTAN and THE BRACELET --- were novels based on her humanitarian aid work. Her most recent book, FOOTPRINTS IN THE DUST, is a memoir chronicling the stories of the refugees with whom she worked. Roberta was kind enough to share with us her experiences at the festival --- which included memorable encounters with two of the attendees --- along with some photos from the event.


Need proof that readers are out there? Just check out the increasing number of successful book festivals around the country. Though the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the National Book Festival, the Brooklyn Book Festival, and the Tucson Festival of Books are perhaps the best known, most major cities host successful fairs of their own. And though Denver has had book fairs, their beloved and best-known bookstore --- the Tattered Cover Book Store --- recently partnered with the Arvada Center for the Arts and Regis University to host a one-day celebration of books, music and art.

Kristen Gilligan from Tattered Cover organized the event, invited authors, arranged the program, and set the idea into glorious motion. As an author, I was one of the 40 asked to attend. Every genre and age range were represented --- from baby board books to young adult to adult, from science fiction to fantasy to women’s fiction and nonfiction --- so the festival held something for every reader who attended. And attend they did. Over a thousand readers of all ages strolled through the fair chatting with authors and other readers and forging bonds not always so readily available. And, perhaps most importantly (at least to authors and booksellers alike), they went home with armloads of books and with that special feeling that only books filled with stories and adventures can deliver.

For authors, who work in such quiet and self-imposed (but oh-so-necessary) solitude, it was an especially gratifying opportunity to sit side-by-side to sign books and connect with other authors. Bestselling novelists Eleanor Brown (THE WEIRD SISTERS, THE LIGHT OF PARIS), Cynthia Swanson (THE BOOKSELLER) and Julie Buxbaum (TELL ME THREE THINGS), among so many others, gave the event the spirit and status that an inaugural event so craves in order to endure.

Beyond forging new friendships, book festivals allow writers to connect with readers, to learn what drew them to our stories, what kept them reading and what we can do to keep them reading far into the future. Tattered Cover gifted us that special opportunity to join authors and readers in a bond that makes us all the richer for it.

When an attendee stopped at my signing table and exclaimed, “You wrote LIPSTICK IN AFGHANISTAN? I loved that book!” the event became more magical for me than I ever could have imagined. Later, as I read passages from both LIPSTICK IN AFGHANISTAN and FOOTPRINTS IN THE DUST, in the makeshift bookstore where authors took turns reading from their books, I noticed a member of the audience dabbing at her eyes. Once I’d finished, she approached me and thanked me for sharing my stories. As if I hadn’t already been convinced, I knew then with certainty that Denver is a reader’s paradise and a writer’s dream. And despite the epic blizzard that had paralyzed the city only days before, the streets were clear, the sun was bright, and the crowds and mood of the festival were warmer and even more inviting than I’d hoped.

And finally, to Kristen Gilligan and the staff of the Tattered Cover Book Store, and to the volunteers --- including the teen volunteers --- who delivered each of us to the area we needed to be when we needed to be there, my deepest gratitude for a superb festival! I look forward to many more!