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Thriller novelist David Baldacci headlines county library’s new Local Author Book Festival

Suspense novelist David Baldacci will headline Fairfax County Public Library’s first Local Author Book Festival (photo by Allen Jones)

For local bookworms who missed out on last month’s National Book Festival in D.C., you’re in luck.

Fairfax County Public Library will launch a book festival of its own on Sept. 30 with an exclusive focus on writers based in Northern Virginia.

That mission separates the Local Author Book Festival from not just the Library of Congress literary extravaganza, but also George Mason University’s annual Fall for the Book, which will mark its 25th year in October with top-billed guests like “High Fidelity” author Nick Hornby and Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James.

“You would be surprised at the number of writers who live in Northern Virginia!” FCPL Program and Educational Services Director Renee Edwards said. “Every year, we get requests from writers who want the library to host author events where they can meet the public and talk about their books. To bring special attention to our writers and give them the opportunity to meet community members and talk about their books, we are hosting our first Local Author Book Festival.”

Kicking off the festival at 9:30 am with a V.I.P. meet-and-greet at Chantilly Regional Library (4000 Stringfellow Road) will be bestselling suspense novelist David Baldacci. The Fairfax Library Foundation, which is sponsoring the festival, describes him as a “Fairfax County favorite son.”

The meet-and-greet will be limited to 50 people, who must purchase a $75 ticket to attend. However, as the festival’s headline speaker, Baldacci will also discuss his novels and answer questions in a free presentation from 11 a.m. to noon, followed by a book sale and signing.

Meet-and-greet participants will get a reserved seat for the general presentation.

A lifelong Virginia resident, Baldacci is a mainstay of the local literary scene, appearing in past events at various county library branches and launching a book at Bards Alley in Vienna last year. The Fairfax Library Foundation honored him and his wife in 2012 for starting the Wish You Well Foundation, a Reston-based charity that supports literacy programs.

“David Baldacci is a local author who is a fan of public libraries. In the past, he has presented at several of our branches and people are always excited to hear him speak!” Edwards said. “We think he is the perfect author to kick off the Local Author Book Festival.”

Overall, there will be 40 authors at the inaugural Local Author Book Festival. FCPL invited authors based on a list of people who had signed up to present at the library, according to Edwards, who says “there was a lot of interest.”

Other confirmed participants include “Instant Pot Asian Pressure Cooker Meals” author Patricia Tanumihardja, “Chronicles of a Royal Pet: Princess and an Ooze” author Ian Rogers, “Havana Hardball: Spring Training, Jackie Robinson, and The Cuban League” author César Brioso, and Jennifer Garman, author of “Flourish: 7 Ways Gratitude can Transform Your Life.”

In addition to allowing community members to meet local authors and buy their books, the outdoor festival will feature snacks, a bookmaking area for kids, a caricature artist, a Silly Shotz photo booth, a raffle for $25 Visa gift cards, and more.

While this festival last just one day, concluding at 3 p.m., FCPL hosts author events year-round. This fall, the library is planning to bring back its Indie Author Day program, which is dedicated to recognizing self-published authors.

Edwards says the library hopes to invite 24 authors to participate in virtual panels from Nov. 1-4.

“Authors and books are our business!” Edwards said. “We love bringing special attention to the people who are right next door — in our county — that may go unnoticed. It is important to us to make sure we are always connecting readers to books.”