Writers share secrets at literary festival

Lindsay Buchanan, Senior Writer

Authors at the Pee Dee Fiction and Poetry Festival gave students, faculty and Florence residents a peek inside the minds of writers during a two-day event recently held at Francis Marion.

Through a series of panel discussions, colloquiums, readings and book signings held from Nov. 4 to 5, four authors and one poet shared with audience members their creative processes for writing and generating story ideas.

The event was coordinated through the efforts of the Kenneth Autrey, FMU professor of English, along with members of the English Department who assisted in many capacities, including moderation of panel sessions. The authors at the festival included Silas House, Francis Marion English Professor Lynn Kostoff, poet Li-Young Lee, ZZ Packer and Tracy K. Smith.

According to Ronald Miller, FMU assistant professor of English, the event provided readers with an in-depth understanding of what it takes to be a serious writer.

“I think it was beneficial for the students to hear how writers go about writing books,” Miller said. “I think many of the students found the writers to be inspirational.”

Hannah Wagner, a freshman majoring in general studies, agreed that attending the festival helped her have a better understanding of what is involved in becoming a good writer.

“Overall it was just very informative,” Wagner said. “The authors really taught me that it’s important to read a lot if you’re going to be a writer and to revise your writing frequently.”

The panel sessions were especially popular among students who wanted the opportunity to see more than one author at a time. In each session two or more authors took questions from the audience and discussed topics ranging from how their personal upbringing influences their writing to how they go about getting their stories published.

In one panel session, Silas House and Li-Young Lee talked to readers about everything from what influences their writing to how they conduct research to what scares them as a writer today.