After 15 festivals, the little book festival that could is all grown up.

Leaders of Bookmarks, Winston-Salem’s nonprofit literary organization, announced Thursday the 60 authors who will come to the Festival of Books and Authors Sept. 5-8. That’s up from 45 authors last year.

Among them are a preponderance of New York Times best-seller authors, including Sarah Blake who wrote "The Postmistress," and an impressive group of children’s authors, including Cece Bell who wrote “El Deafo,” a graphic novel.

“Our kids’ area is super strong this year,” said Jamie Southern, Bookmarks operations manager. “We’re having two kids’ workshops on graphic novels.”

More than 12,000 schoolchildren have met Bookmarks authors this year. That’s up from 1,000 when they first started the Authors In Schools program.

“Getting authors into classrooms, ballparks and auditoriums is a big part of our mission,” said Ginger Hendricks, executive director.

The free street festival, the biggest book festival in N.C., starts at 10 a.m. Sept. 7 in downtown Winston-Salem and will feature 65 exhibitors and food trucks.

The festival footprint will stretch from the Bookmarks Bookstore, 634 W. Fourth St., to Hanesbrands Theatre, 209 N. Spruce St., and takes place along Holly Avenue, Poplar and Spruce streets.

Author panels and other author interactions will be held inside the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts, the Hanesbrands Theatre, Calvary Moravian Church, Bookmarks Bookstore and Footnote.

The festival will begin at 7 p.m. Sept. 5 with a keynote event with Casey Cep at the Hanesbrands Theatre, 209 N. Spruce St. Cep’s debut, “Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee,” chronicles American novelist Harper Lee’s efforts to report on the infamous murder trial of the Rev. Willie Maxwell in Alabama. The book is both true crime and a commentary on the social, political and racial histories of the South. Admission is free. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

On Sept. 6 at 10:30 a.m., Belinda Smith-Sullivan will give a cookbook talk and recipe tasting event at Dewey’s Bakery at Thruway Shopping Center, 262 S. Stratford Road. Her cookbook, “Just Peachy,” includes 70 peach-infused recipes. Admission is free.

Bookmarks will host its 15th Birthday Celebration 6:30-9:30 p.m. on Sept. 6, at The Ramkat, 170 W. Ninth St. It will include festival authors, a toast, a meal, cake by Dewey’s Bakery, bookish games, live music, a signature cocktail, and more. Tickets are $60 per person or $115 for two.

Sept. 7 will begin with a Children’s Author Pancake Breakfast at 8 a.m. This ticketed event will include a chance to mingle with middle-grade authors. It is aimed at children ages 8–12, and all children must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets are $35 for one adult and one child to attend. Tickets for additional children or adults are $10 each.

This year, the children’s area will be in the Foundations Early Learning Center parking lot, 300 N. Poplar St., adjacent to Bookmarks Bookstore. The Kids Area will have an outer space theme with activities sponsored by Kaplan Early Learning Center and The Sunshine House and will include a mobile planetarium, exhibitors, and an author stage.

Bookmarks has snagged a married team of children’s book authors: Lesa Cline-Ransom, author of “Before She Was Harriet,” and her husband, James E. Ransome, who illustrated it. Between them, they have created books about Venus and Serena Williams, Harriett Tubman, Langston Hughes and Satchel Paige and more.

They will present “Telling Stories” at 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 7, during the free all-day festival.

Saturday’s free panel discussions for adults will also include: “Gun Violence in America” with Dave Cullen, from Parkland High School in Florida, and Andy Parker, “For Alison: The Murder of a Young Journalist and a Father’s Fight for Gun Safety”; “Real Life Reimagined: Historical Fiction” with Téa Obreht, “Inland,” Michael Parker, “Prairie Fever,” and Mary Doria Russell, “The Women of Copper Country,” and more.

Local favorites Sarah McCoy, “Marilla of Green Gables,” and Joseph Mills with his first short-story collection, “Bleachers: Fifty-Four Linked Fictions,” will also be presenting.

The festival will wrap up on Sept. 8 with a ticketed event, the annual Festival Author Brunch and Parapalooza. Attendees will get to hear from more than 15 of the 2019 Festival authors as they present excerpts from their work and chat with them over brunch. Tickets are $35 each or $250 for a table of eight.

A full list of authors and events during the festival are at www.bookmarksnc.org. Tickets for ticketed events are at 800-838-3006 or www.bookmarksnc.org/festival19 .Tickets will be on sale at 10 a.m. on July 26.

In addition to the annual Festival of Books and Authors, Bookmarks offers year-round programming including author talks, lecture nights and book club gatherings. Community outreach includes Book Build and Authors In Schools.

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lfelder@wsjournal.com 336-727-7298 @LynnFelder

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