Local writers to mingle with community at Authors Among Us

Chautauquans will have the opportunity to see some familiar faces — and maybe some unfamiliar ones — at the Authors Among Us event Sunday.

“These are the people you see walking around every day with their dogs and their ice cream cones,” said Clara Silverstein, program director of the Chautauqua Writers’ Center. “And they’ve got a book out there, too.”

The event, which is sponsored by the Chautauqua Literary Arts Friends and the Writers’ Center, takes place from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday on Bestor Plaza. Local authors will have the chance to show off their work, and Chautauquans will have the chance to mingle with the authors.

This is the third iteration of the event, but according to Fred Zirm, president of the Friends, this year there’s a big change.

“This year, it will be a book fair on Bestor Plaza,” Zirm said.

In previous years, the event has been held at the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall. But Zirm and Silverstein felt that holding the event there possibly made it more exclusive than it needed to be. By moving the event to Bestor Plaza, they hope to attract more passersby rather than the Literary Arts Center regulars.

“It’ll be more informal,” Silverstein said. “The last couple of years, we did something where we had each person read a sample, and this time people can just walk right up and meet the authors and chat with them about their books.”

Silverstein said having the event take place on Bestor Plaza will provide more opportunities for interaction, something she’s excited about.

“That’s a big change,” Silverstein said. “And it’s no longer readings — there’s more of an opportunity for conversation. Books will be sold if people want to buy them, but I don’t think that’s the main purpose. I think the main purpose is to enrich the authors and let them share their work with people who stop by.”

Zirm and Silverstein said that the event is also a great way to celebrate local talent. Many of the authors have honed their skills at the Writers’ Center over the years. Zirm said seeing local faces that had success publishing their own works might be heartening and inspiring for others wanting to pursue similar goals.

Silverstein will also be one of the authors participating in the event. She’s excited to talk about her memoir, White Girl, with Chautauquans. She said she expects to talk more than she’ll sell, but that’s what she finds most important about the event — the connection between the authors and the community.

“It goes back to the title of the event: ‘Authors Among Us,’ ” Silverstein said.