At the book festival

The second year of the Morristown Festival of Books happened to coincide with a non-hurricane hurricane, and I thought the threatened rain and winds might affect turnout, but book lovers clearly aren’t afraid of weather. I was definitely not the only person tromping up and down South Street in boots, umbrella tucked under arm. Don’t you love book lovers?

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay long this year, so I only got to a few sessions — one children’s author and one grown-up author, to be exact — plus got to see various members of my writing group, which is always lovely. (Apologies for the lack of photos. My phone’s battery went on strike.) Both sessions were highly entertaining in different ways, and what’s funny is, both featured audience members asking the exact same question: “How do you get your ideas?”

I’m fascinated by this question, not so much because of the answer (answers tend to revolve around different ways of saying “Ideas come from everywhere”) but because it makes me wonder about the questioner. What sort of answer are they expecting? Do they think there’s one specific way in which to get ideas, and if they know the specific way, they can get ideas too? Or do they actually mean “How did you get this idea,” because they loved this author’s book so much and want to know the backstory? I lean more toward #2, but that’s just my guess. Because I love hearing a book’s backstory.

I showed great restraint and only bought one book (“Saint Mazie,” by Jami Attenberg, because I thought “The Middlesteins” was great), so my to-be-read pile is only slightly larger than normal.

I continue to be impressed by how well organized the festival is, and how many name authors it attracts, even when the weather is dicey. And Morristown is a fine town to walk around in, because there are lots of good restaurants and shops, and as far as I can tell, a frozen yogurt place on every corner. So if you’re in Jersey next October, swing by for year three. I’ll be there.


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