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Bemidji Library Book Festival: Saberi to discuss book; Booth shares his story about becoming a writer

Today will be the biggest events for the Bemidji Library Book Festival because along with Don Houseman and Julie Schumacher, there will be an Author Fair and Roxana Saberi will speak about her book, "Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran."

Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m. found us at the Rail River Folk School. Roy C. Booth and his wife, Cynthia, who is also a short story writer and playwright, spoke to an audience about "the dark side." Booth admitted to "scaring a teacher" when he was 6 years old with a picture book, 24 pages long, with himself as a hero using his silver baseball bat. The zombies, werewolves and other creatures caused his mother to be summoned to school to be told that her son needed counseling. At 14, Booth sent in his first story, which was published, but because he was underage, he used a pseudonym. He still uses that pseudonym today, occasionally, and smiles when he hears someone remark that that author has not printed anything lately. Booth is a prolific writer, poet, screen writer and editor, who is a speculative fiction writer - horror, science fiction and fantasy - as well as a cross-genre writer in the Western story market. Booth also spoke about the immediacy of theater as opposed to movies and how each publisher has different standards for the works they will accept and publish. Booth says that the nicer pace of Bemidji has kept him here; those days when he can sit lakeside with a deck of index cards and write. Sometimes his writing will be a 40-hour marathon, and other times, he lets ideas just incubate for hours, days, weeks and sometimes years.

This morning, retired art teacher and children's book author Don Houseman will be spinning his tales for children at 10:30 a.m. in the Bemidji Public Library. Houseman has self-published two children's books dealing with life on the farm with his own illustrations: "How Harvey and His Friends Saved the Barn" and "Harvey and His Friends and the Great Fishing Adventure."

Houseman is also noted for his woodcuts and his collection of barn paintings, "Barns are Noble," which has traveled throughout the state and most recently was on display at the Wild Hare Bistro in Bemidji.

Another author who writes for all ages is Julie Schumacher who will talk at 2 p.m. at the Headwaters School of Music and the Arts, 519 Minnesota Ave. N.W. One of Schumacher's undergraduate writing assignments, "Reunion," was selected and reprinted in "The Best American Short Stories" in 1983. Schumacher is a faculty member in the Creative Writing Program and the Department of English at the University of Minnesota. She has also written four books for teen readers: "Black Box," "The Book of One Hundred Truths," "The Chain Letter" and "Grass Angel." Her short story collection is called, "An Explanation for Chaos."

Later on in the day, at 5 p.m. in the Bemidji High School, 2900 Division St. W., commons, almost 30 authors from around the state will be gathered for the Authors Fair which will continue until 7 p.m. The BHS Show Choirs will sell refreshments, and representatives from the Boys & Girls Club of the Bemidji Area will sell copies of Saberi's book, "Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran."

As of Thursday afternoon, the authors who will be at the book fair to sell and/or sign their books are: Roy C. Booth, Dennis Bartz,Tom Chapin, Erik Evensen, Sara Forsberg, Janet Fredenburg, Arle Hagberg, Margo Hansen, Sean Hill, Hope House, Don Houseman, Anne Huhtala, June Kramin, Mary Knox-Johnson, Don Kramer, Jayson Knutson, Jamie Lee, Rachel Lofgren, Jamison Mahto, Mary Lou Marchand, Kevin McColley, Gerald Moe, Wendy Potratz, Jim Proebstle, Gail Rixen, Gordon Sirvio, Beth Solheim, Anthony Swann, Holly Szurpicki, Mark Toffle, Lenora Vermeersch and Melissa Vocelka.

Roxana Saberi will be in the main auditorium starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are free and available at the Bemidji Public Library, Headwaters School of Music and the Arts and at the door.

The final author of the Book Festival this year is Susan Marie Swanson, a picture book writer and poet. She will read to children at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 18, at the Bemidji Public Library. Swanson is fascinated by the lives of children and their writings, so she has been busy writing poetry with children for more than 25 years. "The House in the Night" by Swanson won the Caldecott Medal. It is a bedtime story for young children with glowing pictures and it explores the origins of light that make a house a home. Swanson said she feels that naming nighttime things is comforting and interesting to pre-schoolers: the bed, the moon and keys as they make up an order to the universe.

All of these programs have been open to the public and free of charge because they are provided with funds approved by Minnesota voters for arts and cultural heritage, and support from First National Bank of Bemidji and some anonymous donors.