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Literary fest to bring micro-memoirs, 40-plus authors, and more to Salem

The 14th annual Salem Literary Festival runs Sept. 5-10

A book signing session at 2017's Salem Literary Festival with authors Katherine Howe, Kathleen Kent, and Brunonia Barry.Lisa Kelly

The Salem Athenaeum’s 14th annual Salem Literary Festival, featuring more than 40 authors, begins Tuesday, Sept. 5, and features five days of events and programming.

Following 11 months of planning, the festival schedule spans the genres for readers of all ages. Standalone evening sessions kick off Tuesday with a virtual conversation between horror writers Grady Hendrix (“How to Sell a Haunted House”) and Stoughton-based Paul Tremblay (“The Beast You Are”). Wednesday evening, award-winning author Angie Cruz will host an in-person Spanish-English discussion of her novel, “How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water,” at the Salem Academy Charter School as a part of One Book, One Salem. Diane Stern, a Salem Literary Festival Committee member, said of Cruz’s novel, “It really makes you think, and takes you out of where you are in your life and puts you in this wonderful character. It’s pretty amazing what the author did to win us over.”


Saturday morning, Emmy-nominated journalist and writer Lisa Braxton will lead a workshop on 100-word memoirs (roughly five to seven sentences) about five-minute life moments.

“I’ve heard these read before by [the memoirs’] authors,” said Stern. “It’s really stunning. It’s amazing how much of a punch these tiny little stories can give.” Stern said stories could be about a fateful bus ride or seeing a flower that serves as a reminder of somebody. “It doesn’t have to be momentous,” she added. Select memoirs will be read aloud after class.

Author panels run through Saturday afternoon; they include a conversation between best-selling authors Laura Zigman (“Small World”) and Adrienne Brodeur (“Little Monsters”), as well as back-to-back, multi-Young Adult author sessions, “Romance and Tropes” and “Thrills and Chills.”

Sunday, select events are offered online, including a panel with authors who have narrated the audiobook versions of their novels. Stern said the duality of narration will be a common thread during the discussion, adding, “I would imagine questions [about] what your voice is or what you’re capable of doing as you’re writing. Are you thinking about how you’re going to be voicing [the book]? How does the actual writing inform the way you read it out loud?”


The virtual and in-person hybrid allows global participation. In previous years, people have tuned in from Australia, England, and Canada, among other countries, according to Stern.


Sept. 5-10. Locations vary each day. Attendance is free, but registration at the website is encouraged for in-person events and required to join virtually. salemlitfest.org

Kajsa Kedefors can be reached at kajsa.kedefors@globe.com.