Winter Sojourn provides a dream afternoon for book lovers everywhere
It was a bluebird Saturday, but book lovers in Steamboat Springs and beyond were glued to their screens as they listened to four authors speak at last weekend’s Winter Sojourn.
An extension of the library’s beloved Literary Sojourn, this special winter edition was scheduled to be an in-person event at Strings Music Festival until just a few weeks before it took place when the decision was made to move it to a virtual format. But literary fans across the country didn’t let that stop them from tuning in to listen to the four authors discuss their latest books and the inspirations behind their stories, settings and characters.
Sojourn director Jennie Lay said that the winter edition was “designed to be a special snowy-season reunion to relight the literary fires of our Sojourn fans.”
And it delivered.
For some, including the writer of this article, it was a chance to discover new authors. Upon realizing that I had read only one of the four author’s books (and that was in 2013), I devoured “We Run the Tides,” by Vendela Vida, an author I wasn’t previously aware of.
For others, it was a chance to ask questions of the authors — about their characters, their inspirations, their story lines — and a chance to glean some insight into each of their newest books.
The four authors — Jess Walter, Vendela Vida, Maaza Mengiste and Mary Roach — were chosen for “their outstanding new books and stellar storytelling skills,” Lay said.
“We were confident that their mix of nonfiction, domestic and international historical fiction and literary fiction was just right for an eclectic, entertaining and highly engaging day,” she added.
Jess Walter, the master of ceremonies, began the event by discussing his latest book, “The Cold Millions,” which came out in 2020. He subsequently interviewed Vendela Vida and Maaza Mengiste, while Lay finished up the afternoon interviewing science writer Mary Roach. After each author’s segment, the audience had a chance to submit questions.
Sprinkled within the discussions were videos — a short film about “The Cold Millions,” which took the viewer on a literary tour of Spokane, Washington, where Walter lives and where the book was set, and an intermission video that showed the author’s workspaces.
And while there was some disappointment surrounding the fact that the event had to take place in a virtual format, Walter noted that he did nearly his entire book tour virtually — and the format opened the prestigious event to everyone, not only in Steamboat but across the country, and it was free.
For me, a relatively avid reader, especially once my kids go to bed, the biggest takeaway from the afternoon was how lucky we are to have our library. It’s in a small town, but it can put on a big event. To listen to authors talk about their books is captivating, insightful and — if that author is Roach — funny.
I hadn’t previously attended a Literary Sojourn event, but I now look forward to September 2022 when the next one is scheduled — hopefully in person but in any case, a thrilling day for readers and writers both.
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be reached through the editor.
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