So, I went over on Friday and I had the book of the woman who did the first panel with me, Laura Cunningham’s Haunted Memphis, and I started to drive around to as many places in her book as I could, but when I got to the Elmwood Cemetery, I was sunk. It was amazing. I was there for almost two hours when I finally noticed there was an audio tour (it was well-marked, I just was an idiot) and I was like, argh, why didn’t I take the audio tour?!
Then I went to my hotel and got ready for the opening reception. That was down at Berke’s Books and was awesome. I got to talk about ghosts, my friend, Claire, introduced me to everyone, and I had a really lovely talk with a country music DJ about Lefty Frizzell. I also got invited to one party and threatened with being kidnapped off to another party. But I went back to the hotel and slept like the dead.
The Festival itself was at the Botanical Gardens. The weather was beautiful and the surroundings were really lovely. Plus, they had a green room! You went and hanged out in there before your session and they gave you drinks and cookies and donuts and answered all your questions. And then, when it was time, they took you right to your session! It felt so fancy and weird. The ghost story session went really well, I think. Laura is really lovely and incredibly smart about Memphis history and we had a lot of common approaches to things, even though she ended up in non-fiction and I ended up in fiction. And the audience asked really, really good questions.
So, we finished up and I had a couple of hours until my next session. I went outside and ran back into Steve Steffens–who came to my session!–and he took me over to his friends’ food truck so that I could grab some lunch. He warned me ahead of time that they were out of bratwurst, because Midwesterners know to prepare each other for the lack of bratwurst. It’s basically how you can spot us in any situation where we aren’t carrying a casserole around, looking for a church basement to set it in. “Careful going to the Quad Cities this afternoon. There’s an accident on I-80 and the traffic’s backed way up. Plus, there are no bratwursts to be had in the traffic jam.” “What?! Thank you for the warning, friend! I will go over to the Walmart before I leave town and pick some up.”
Anyway, since they were out of bratwurst, I had what was ostensibly a hot dog. It was like a hot dog. I mean, I could see how it and hot dogs are in the same family. But hot dogs are like your high school boyfriend. This was like when your high school boyfriend’s hot old brother comes home from college and you spend all day acting a fool trying to get him to notice you. This hot dog was the college brother of regular hot dogs. It had a texture more like a sausage than a long tube of bologna and it had some kind of chunky fat bits like a bratwurst. And then put this sweet pepper relish on it that complimented the flavors of the hot dog so well, which only highlighted that the hot dog had flavors, mild flavors, as you’d expect from a hot dog, but flavors. It was the kind of hot dog you eat and then immediately lament that you can’t share it with loved ones.
But then it was time to go back to the green room to get read for my next session. I met two more authors, both who had been at SIBA the year that my place of employment experienced a great SIBA related embarrassment and was banned from ever returning. And, I’ll be damned if they weren’t talking about it! So, that was weird and funny.
My other session was really interesting. My other panelist was a guy from Memphis who started this company. I was immediately like “Coble could spend a lot of time here.” I learned a lot in that session and again, the audience asked such good questions.
I had a really great time. It was well-organized, friendly, and fun. The People at Literacy Mid-South were just fantastic. The only thing I’d do differently if I had to do it again would be to stay two nights and get to take in some of the other panels.