HomeBooksLouisiana Book Festival 2018 Top Picks

Louisiana Book Festival 2018 Top Picks

The Louisiana Book Festival is fast approaching the second Saturday in November, and we have some suggestions to help navigate the jam-packed schedule. 

Because the Louisiana Book Festival‘s November 10 schedule could easily fill three days, attending takes some planning and prioritizing. It never fails that two or three or four of your favorite authors are scheduled at the same time and running back and forth between sessions is the only way to see everything. Most events are held in the State Capitol, but that still means several floors and long hallways to navigate. With a focus on Southern literature of course, we are recommending some don’t-miss sessions throughout the day. Some of the festival’s big-name guests include actresses Justine Bateman and Quevenzhane Wallis and author Ernest Gaines. We suggest getting into Baton Rouge on Friday to make the most of this free literary marathon.

Get the entire Louisiana Book Festival schedule here.

WordShops & Author’s Party

Writing WordShops start on Friday morning at 9 a.m., and this year’s topics include self-publishing, writing about home, the reader/writer collaboration and nonfiction. Each session is only $50, a bargain for three hours of instruction from published, award-winning writers. On Friday evening, from 7-9 p.m., you can meet many of the authors attending the festival at the Authors Party. Held inside the State Library, this event is a fundraiser for the Louisiana Library and Book Festival Foundation and includes food and drinks for $50 admission.

Louisiana’s Death Row – 9-9:45 a.m. 

Start off the morning with a panel about novels of truth, justice and mercy with Mandy Mikulencack (The Last Suppers) and Elizabeth H. Winthrop (The Mercy Seat).

Women’s Journeys of Self-Discovery in Fiction – 9-10 a.m.

Here’s where things get fun. You can either choose between “Death Row” and “Journeys” or sprint to catch the end of the second panel, which includes Martha Boone (The Big Free), Susan Cushman (Cherry Bomb), Joe Formichella (Scarpete Stories), Vicki Salloum (Waiting for You at Midnight) and Sweta Vikram (Louisiana Catch).

Fame: The Hijacking of Reality with Justine Bateman – 10-10:45 a.m. (booksigning from 11-11:45 a.m.)

“Family Ties” fans can’t come all the way to Baton Rouge and not see Justine Bateman. Fame is her first book and has been described as a visceral, intimate look at the experience of fame. If you can’t make her talk, you can still see her and get your book signed an hour later.

21st Century Southern Fiction – 10:15-11 a.m. 

An all-star cast including C. Morgan Babst (The Floating World), Matthew Griffin (Hide), Jamie Quatro (Fire Sermon) and Nick White (Sweet & Low) join together for this panel, sure to be one of the best of the festival.

Family Influenced Fiction – 11-11:45 a.m.

You could attend this one on title alone, but it includes Olivia Claire as moderator, Nicole Seitz (The Cage-maker) and Spencer Wise (The Emperor of Shoes).

The Tragedy of Brady Sims with Ernest Gaines – 11-11:45 a.m. (booksigning from noon-12:45 p.m.)

It would be unwise not to take the chance to see Ernest Gaines when you can get it, and this interview is moderated by Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque and English professor Marcia Gaudet.

Shai & Emmie are Stars with Quevenzhane Wallis – 11:15 a.m.-noon (booksigning from 12:15-1 p.m.)

Nominated for an Academy Award for her debut role in “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” Quevenzhane Wallis is now an author of the “Shai & Emmie” young readers series.

On the Edge of Your Seat: Children Gone Missing – Noon-12:45 p.m.

Two of our favorite authors, Kimberly Belle (Three Days Missing) and Tiffany Quay Tyson (The Past is Never), team up for this talk that is sure to be riveting.

Place as Character – 12:15-1 p.m. 

One of two panels moderated by our Editor Erin Z. Bass, “Place as Character” brings together Johnnie Bernhard (How We Came to Be), Minrose Gwin (Promise) and Bernice L. McFadden (Gathering of Waters).

Atticus Finch: The Biography – 12:30-1 p.m. 

Author Joseph Crespino talks about Harper Lee, her father and the making of an American icon.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent: YA Mysteries – 1-1:45 p.m. 

Amy Brashear (No Saints in Kansas)—who retells Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood from the perspective of a teenage girl—is on this panel, along with Ashley Elston (The Lying Woods) and Karen M. McManus (One of Us is Lying), proving that YA mysteries are enjoyable at any age.

The Fighter – 1-1:45 p.m. 

If you haven’t heard Michael Farris Smith (The Fighter) talk about his work, here’s your chance. J.C. Sasser (Gradle Bird) interviews him, so this is a homerun of a session.

Short Stories: A Sense of Place – 1-2 p.m. 

Two authors we’ve promoted in the past, David Langlinais (The End of Everything) and Amos Jasper Wright IV (Nobody Knows How It Got This Good), make up this short story panel along with Genaro Ky Ly Smith (The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born).

Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy – 1:30-2 p.m. 

Sonny Brewer (The Lost Country by William Gay), Bren McClain (One Good Mama Bone) and Nicole Seitz (The Cage-maker), all contributors who shared their stories of Pat Conroy in this new collection, come together to remember him.

Southern Historical Fiction – 2:15-3 p.m.

Be forewarned, you’re going to have to choose between the next three panels. History buffs will want to hear from Taylor Brown (Gods of Howl Mountain), Nathaniel Rich (King Zeno) and Kent Wascom (The New Inheritors), who will enlighten us about events from the past.

Southern Writers on Writing – 2:15-3 p.m. 

Another one to attend just for the title, this panel includes Susan Cushman (Cherry Bomb), Joe Formichella (Scarpete Stories), Suzanne Hudson (Shoe Burnin’ Season), Nicole Seitz (The Cage-maker) and M.O. Walsh (Southern Writers on Writing).

The Power of Two – 2:15-3 p.m. 

The second panel moderated by our Editor Erin Z. Bass is a conversation with J.C. Sasser (Gradle Bird) and Bren McClain (One Good Mama Bone). Sasser (pictured above on the right from last year’s festival) and McClain are friends, writing partners and critics of each other’s work. They will discuss that process and read from each other’s work.

What to do until the festival ends around 4 p.m.? Hit the book tent and then get in line for lots of booksignings during the final hour.

Patti Callahan Henry
Visit Hill House Fro