I live in Claremont, NH, which is the most boring place on earth. I actually love that about Claremont because there are no distractions. I don’t spend any money, and I read and write a lot. My highlights of the week are cursing out the turkeys that stomp all over my garden and playing Pickleball with old people at the Community Center. This lack of social activity would probably make me go all Jack Torrence on my girlfriend, but there are events that help me not go on a murder spree—literary festivals and conferences.
I love them. They are my Chuck E Cheese, Pokemon Go, and Super Bowl all rolled into one weekend. When it comes to socializing, sharing, and connecting through the passion of literature, nothing tops a good Con or Book Fest. For the past six years, I’ve gone to a lot of them whether they are small and celebrating cult literature like BizzaroCon or KrallCon or more mainstream events like Miami Book Festival or AWP. I’ve experienced a lot of diverse literary events but Brooklyn Book Festival has always been one of my favorites.
NICK CATO, JOSHUA CHAPLINSKY, CHRISTOPH PAUL, LEZA CANTORAL
The Brooklyn Book Festival was the first large literary event I had ever attended. It was where I fell in love with literary festivals. I’ve been attending BKBF for the past 5 years as a reader and fan but never as a bookseller and writer. It was a dream come true to set up a booth and feel confident that I could make my money back selling my own books or books I edited. Though it is a lot of work, there is a great high I get from selling my books, but it takes a certain mindset to know you are going to get over 150 dirty looks through out the day and as many rejections.
I shared the table with Nick Cato, Leza Cantoral, my alter ego Mandy De Sandra, and Joshua Chaplinksy. Our table had, hands down, the weirdest and most offensive books at the festival.
JOSHUA CHAPLINSKY AUTHOR OF KANYE WEST RE ANIMATOR
Shark attacks on the White House, Slasher Camps, Porno Theaters, Fox News Fuckfests, a horny Reagansaurs, and Kanye raising the dead, Lovecraft style. These are books that are not for everyone, but there is no better feeling than seeing someone stop by, pick up the book and say, “What the fuck is this…” look through for two minutes and then say, “I must buy this.”
Bizarro Fiction books are fun as hell to sell, but having pretty good sales at the festival was not the highlight for me. My favorite part of BKBF was taking a sales break to walk around and talk to the different writers and publishers that I love and admire like MacMillian, Feral House and Akashic, as well as Lit sites and groups like Electric Literature and the Horror Writers Association.
CHRISTINA WARD OF FERAL HOUSE
While I enjoy a good horror or Bizarro Con, my favorite Lit events are where there is wide range of books and literary scenes. In Claremont, NH there is no literary culture, there isn’t a genre scene or a literary scene, there is only a drug scene. Brooklyn Book Festival always brings a great range of books when it comes to diverse publishers and writers, though there weren’t many other weird/Bizarro Lit tables. I actually like that, it is fun to be the ‘weird table.’
I was happy to represent the weird and cult, the only thing that bummed me out about having a booth was that I didn’t have enough time to see any of the panels. I enjoy panels a lot, it is fun to see writers talking to writers that might not ever meet in real life, but that still doesn’t compete with the simple pleasure of walking around a book festival browsing different books and talking to diverse groups of writers and publishers. That is what gets me excited about festivals and cons, and happy to sell or buy—I love to be on both sides of the booth.
JOANNA VALENTE OF LUNA LUNA MAGAZINE
AND MICHAEL SEIDLINGER OF CIVIL COPING MECHANISMS
Christoph Paul is an award-winning humor writer and publisher of New English Press. His most recent books are Slasher Camp for Nerd Dorks and Great White House 2: Billary Bites Back. Find him on Twitter @Christophpaul_ and Christophpaulauthor.com.