40 authors and you to talk about books, storytelling and all things literary

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More than 40 authors will gather in southern Queens on the Rockaway peninsula, June 8, to participate in a series of panel discussions about books and writing. An evening film festival, presented on both Saturday and Sunday evenings, will round out the event.

Panel discussions include a variety of genres including mystery writing, historical fiction, the challenges of local journalism, staying young, the Holocaust, wines and spirits and much more. Films will include documentaries and features by local artists.

Irish novelist Tom Phelan will talk about his latest work describing the plight of Ireland’s WWI soldiers, while authors from the newly published anthology, Queens Noir (Akashic Books of Brooklyn) will discuss the challenges of writing dark fiction.

Jill Eisenstadt, a novelist who grew up in Rockaway and whose first book, From Rockaway, captured the 80s beach scene, contributed to Queens Noir and will join a panel led by editor Robert Knightly that includes Jillian Abbot, Maggie Estep (Flamethrower), Alan Gordon (The Fools Guild Mystery series), Patricia King, Liz Martinez, Kim Sykes and K. J. A. Wishnia (23 Shades of Black).

Popular thriller writer Thomas O’Callaghan (Bone Thief, The Screaming Room) will lead a second panel of mystery and thriller novelists including Alison Gaylin (Trashed), former Rockawayite Aileen Baron (The Gold of Thrace, The Torch of Tangier), and Jay Lillie (Pacific Rebound, Havana Passage).

Other participants will discuss how their fiction intersects their lives and the importance of developing fully realized characters. Darcy Steinke (Easter Everywhere: A Memoir, Milk: A Novel) will join Ellen Meister (Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA), along with Helen Schulman (A Day at the Beach), William Frederick Cooper (There’s Always a Reason), Anne Landsman (The Rowing Lesson), David Evanier (The Great Kisser) and Anya Ulinich (Petropolis) in two panels which will be moderated, respectively, by Carol Hoenig (Without Grace) and Pamela Popeson, a Rockaway playwright whose most recent full length play, What Comes Next, is in performance at the Access Theater in Manhattan.

Historical novelist Stephanie Cowell (Marrying Mozart) will join Mina Samuels (The Queen of Cups — a novel about the wife of American philosopher C.S. Peirce) to discuss the historical experiences of women married to well known, but often difficult men, in a discussion moderated by author Dr. Steven Porter (America’s Dying Democracy, Hannes Klar).

The Holocaust experience will be discussed by survivors and authors including former Rockaway resident and Brooklyn College professor Tibbi Duboys (Teaching the Holocaust), Rockaway’s own Miriam Sorger (A Raft on the River), and past Rockawayite Rena Bernstein (Bitter Freedom), with novelist Cheryl Pearl Sucher (The Rescue of Memory).

The Broad Channel based team of Dan and Liz Guarino will be on hand to talk about their new book, Broad Channel: Images of America, and discuss the joining of words with pictures. Fellow panelists include Breezy Point’s Kenneth Hogan (America’s Ballparks, The Old Firehouse), Brooklyn’s Ben Gibberd (New York Waters) and New Jersey’s Brian Yarvin (Farms and Foods of the Garden State).

A panel on the challenges of aging well will include Heather Hummel (Gracefully: Looking and Being Your Best at any Age), Rockaway writer Renee Lee Rosenberg (Achieving the Good Life After Fifty), and former Rockaway resident Alan Geller (Scary Diagnosis). It will be moderated by health writer Nancy Gahles.

The challenge of writing for local newspapers will be addressed by Rockaway Wave editor Howard Schwach and Rockaway Point News editor, Noreen Schram in a panel led by reporter Arlene McKanic. A workshop on breaking into print for new and aspiring writers will be presented by returning author Carol Hoenig (Without Grace). Beverage and Media Group Editor Perry Luntz, author of Whiskey & Spirits for Dummies will speak on the finer points of selecting liquor and liqueurs.

Music, poetry and dramatic readings will occur throughout the day and will feature popular WFUV disc jockey Pete Fornatale, talking about his new book, Simon and Garfunkel’s Bookends.

The Big Screen

Flanking the literary event, on the evenings of June 7-8, festival organizers will present a series of films by local artists. Saturday evening’s feature is award-winning director/producer and Rockaway resident Brett Morgen’s The Kid Stays in the Picture, about the producer of Chinatown and The Godfather Robert Evans’ seduction of Hollywood.

Morgen’s feature will share Saturday’s bill with Westchester filmmaker David Baugnon, whose special on artists who fought and painted their way through World War II (Art in the Face of War) will kick off the evening. Filmmaker Mark Street’s documentary, Hidden in Plain Sight, capturing the street life of four major cities around the globe, will complete Saturday’s fare.

On Sunday evening, following the literary festival, Rockaway auteur Kevin Breslin’s The Other Side of the Street, a short homage to Jimmy Breslin, will be shown. This will be followed by award winning Rockaway filmmaker Bob Sarnoff’s new entry, Dispatch, viewing the world from the dashboard of a local car service. Sarnoff’s earlier films include the well received Irish Ropes.

Rockaway-based playwright Pamela Popeson will present a short video from one of her stage plays and, at 8:25, the evening’s feature, The Limbo Room, by Rockaway filmmaker Debra Eisenstadt, a comedic, existential look at life in the theater and the politics of sex will be shown.

The evening will conclude with an offering by Rockaway based filmmaker Yisrael Lifschutz presenting his new documentary, The Jewish Basketball Hall of Fame.

Admission to all showings and panel discussions is free. Food and refreshments will be available. Books will be offered for sale throughout Sunday’s book festival by Manhattan bookseller Mobile Libris with authors available to talk about and sign books for interested readers.

It all happens at The Gateway National Recreation Area’s Ft. Tilden which is located just across the Marine Parkway Bridge (bearing right, following the signs) at the end of Flatbush Avenue. For more, call 718-634-0577.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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