Augusta Literary Festival helps promote area authors

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Audrey Weis Smith, middle left, author of "The Silence Between Waves" and "A Good Egg," greets people along with her daughter, Alexandra Smith, middle right, during the Augusta Literary Festival Saturday afternoon March 3, 2012, at the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library.   MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Audrey Weis Smith, middle left, author of "The Silence Between Waves" and "A Good Egg," greets people along with her daughter, Alexandra Smith, middle right, during the Augusta Literary Festival Saturday afternoon March 3, 2012, at the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library.

Everyone has heard the fish story about the “one that got away.” But Bill Baab’s book Remembering George W. Perry tells the story of a documented big catch and the man behind it.

“He caught the world’s largest bigmouth bass on June 2, 1932,” said Baab, the longtime outdoor editor for The Augusta Chronicle, who was one of more than 50 authors at Saturday’s Augusta Literary Festival at the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library.

Perry caught the 22-pound, 4-ounce bass near Jacksonville, Ga. Baab first met Perry in 1959, and he spent years interviewing Perry’s friends, co-workers and family in researching the book. A few years ago, someone in Japan tied the bass record, but no one has broken it.

Baab has also written books about his hobby of bottle collecting, with his latest one focusing on the dairy industry in Aiken, Columbia and Richmond counties.

A variety of books was represented at the event, including works on history, children’s fiction, horror, romance and religious topics.

Susan Mucha writes medical mysteries. Her book Deadly Deception is about a doctor who is murdered at Augusta National Golf Club. She also has written a book called Die Before Your Time. Barbara Seaborn, a longtime columnist for The Columbia County News-Times, wrote a book called As Long as the Rivers Run; Highlights from Columbia County’s Past. Don Rhodes, a longtime entertainment writer for The Chronicle, brought his books, as did former Augusta Mayor Bob Young.

Wayne Anthony O’Bryant specializes in history from a black perspective. He had three titles available, two of which were inspired by stories told to him as a child by his great-grandmother.

Who is RaEl? is a glimpse into the research he has done on ancient Africa and Egypt.

O’Bryant said when he was going to school, black history began with slavery, but his great-grandmother told him their heritage was more than that.

O’Bryant has also written a book with a local angle, Flower in the Sand: The History and Heritage of Bettis Academy. Bettis Academy in Edgefield County, S.C., started as a school for black children, but O’Bryant said there is much more to it than that.

“It was a self-contained community,” he said.

It had a hospital, funeral home and other industries.

The Augusta Literary Festival was the brainchild of author Corey Washington, a sixth-grade teacher at Tutt Middle School who had been part of literary events in other places. Those events, however, seemed to be more designed to drain an author’s pocketbook than help promote books, which was the focus of the Augusta event, he said.

“We were trying to create an event that would take care of authors,” he said.

Not only were authors able to sell their books at the event, but there were several events during the day. Various writers spoke about their books, and there was a theater symposium.

Washington said he hopes this will become an annual event and that it will be expanded next year.


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