Melissa LeGette is just the type of writer that Aiken Children's Book Festival coordinator Fran Bush wanted children to meet.
Ms. LeGette, a 21-year-old from Washington, Ga., started on her first book when she was 14. The Unicorn Girl was published when she was 18. She's now writing her second book.
"She is what this festival is all about," Ms. Bush said. Inspiring children to read and perhaps write their own stories was one purpose of the event, which was held Sept. 20 at Aiken Technical College. Writer Karen Petit gave teacher Traci Nelson an Ivy Award for inspiring children to read.
"It's all about kids reading and writing. I want to give kids an I-can-too attitude," Ms. Bush said.
Ms. LeGette said that, unlike some wrtiers who have a story in mind when they begin writing their novel, she had the desire to write a novel before she had the idea.
"I was obsessed with unicorns," she said.
Her second novel, For the Kingdom, is unrelated to the first.
More than 40 authors from across the Southeast took their books to the event to sell and to sign.
Janelle Janssen said meeting the authors affected her purchases.
"There were books I would not have bought (before meeting the authors)," she said.
After listening to the writers explain why they wrote the books and the meaning behind their characters and plots, she changed her mind. She bought several books for her daughter Abby, a fourth-grader at Mead Hall.
In conjunction with the book festival, there was a teachers' workshop and a writing workshop for students the day before.
Abby attended the writing workshop and came away impressed.
"We really learned a lot of stuff," she said.
Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at firstname.lastname@example.org.