Promoting local authors

Event at South Regional library brings together books, readers and writers

Lance Shearer

Marco Island is a hotbed of literature – who knew? Saturday, the Collier County Public Library held a Local Author Book Fair at the South Regional Library on Lely Cultural Parkway, hosting nearly 50 authors and their books, and the event had a strong Marco Island presence. The books sat on tables, the authors sat behind the tables, and hundreds of booklovers made the rounds, chatting with the writers and sometimes taking home an autographed volume.

Gina Sisbarro writes both romantic fiction and children's stories. The Collier County public library system hosted an author fair Saturday at the South Regional library branch, with nearly four dozen local writers and talks from two eminent authors.

One table alone contained the works of over 20 Marco writers, or Marco Island Writers, which is the name of a cooperative of island authors. There, member Nicholas Kalvin displayed volumes of short stories and poems published collectively by the group, while also selling his own novel “Sexual Jihad,” the story of two women kidnapped by an Arab sheikh to serve as sex slaves. Kalvin, a medical doctor, was the first eye surgeon in Collier County.

Theatrical impresario and director Gina Sisbarro brought books in two distinct genres. “Finally Found,” a romantic novel with two shirtless hunks and a dark-haired girl on the cover, shared table space with “Booey and the Bug,” a children’s story about a dog.

Betsy Perdichizzi came in costume as Tommie Barfield, who is the subject of one of her volumes of Marco Island history, along with “Island Voices,” “The Phony Hermit,” and “Into the Florida Wilderness: Pioneer Life and Medicine in Southwest Florida.” Marco Island Historical Mueseum curator of collections Austin Bell was there with “Marco Island,” his copiously illustrated history of the island’s pioneer era, drawn from the museum’s collections, and taking advance orders for his about-to-be-published second book, “Modern Marco (Images of Modern America),” a companion volume to his first book, but now focusing on the island’s development.

Austin Bell, left, talks about his two volumes of Marco Island history. The Collier County public library system hosted an author fair Saturday at the South Regional library branch, with nearly four dozen local writers and talks from two eminent authors.

Jill Baguchinsky, another writer who calls Marco Island home, displayed “Mammoth” and “Spooky Girl,” an investigation of the paranormal, and said she is working on her third and fourth books simultaneously. Cathy Burnham Martin, who has published 16 books, brought copies of 11 of them to the author fair, including “Lobacious Lobster,” the newest installment in her series of cookbooks, “The Bimbo Has Brains” and “The Bimbo has MORE Brains,” and “A Dangerous Book for Dogs.”

In addition to the authors whose tables lined the library’s meeting room and main hallway, attendees had the chance to hear from two bestselling authors. Ben Bova has published 140 books, wrote a long-running column in the Naples Daily News, and has won multiple awards in the realm of science fiction. Nathan Hill has published one book, but “The Nix,” his debut work, shot to the top of bestseller lists including that of the New York Times, and garnered critical acclaim. He is a professor at FGCU.

The two talked about how they write. Persistence is key, said they both said.

“For me, it’s just a matter of getting up in the morning and whacking at the keyboard. The important thing is to keep at it,” said Bova.

“If you wait for inspiration, it’s not happening. I want to write five to seven pages a day,” said Hill. He writes his first draft in longhand, so he won’t be tempted to self-edit, but just gets the words down on the page. “Working in a notebook, it’s easier to just keep going forward.”

Bova used much of his allotted time to urge our society to push ahead with space exploration, saying we are in a moment equivalent to the year 1491, when the European world was on the verge of a monumental step, but didn’t know it.

“We are the generation that can bring America back to the moon and open up the frontier just 100 miles above us. It’s incredibly important for us and the world,” he said.

Two food trucks in the library parking lot fed attendees’ hunger for food, while the authors inside fed their hunger for literature and ideas.

The event was a follow-up on the first local book fair the library held almost four years ago, and the library system, in conjunction with the Friends of the Library, will be doing it again, said Catherine Cowser, co-director of the library system.

“Our intent is to have this become an annual event,” she said, and noted that many more local authors had applied, but they had not been able to accommodate all of them, including additional Marco writers. “We want to promote local authors.”