An interview with Ellen Hopkins on the inaugural Great Carson City Lit Fest

Popular author Ellen Hopkins is planning a new literary event for Northern Nevada: the Great Carson City Lit Fest, which will be held in Carson City June 6-8. Ellen agreed to answer questions about the event by email.

TL: The Great Carson City Lit Fest is a new event for Northern Nevada. What is it?

EH: It’s a family-friendly celebration of the arts, with the focus on books, authors and literacy. There will be more than fifty authors participating, from debut to National Book Award finalists. This is our inaugural year, but we want to grow this into one of the finest book festivals in the country. Plans are already underway for 2015, and we’ve got some great surprises in store.

TL: I understand, while most events are free, there are three ticketed events, with the proceeds benefitting Ventana Sierra. Why did you found this nonprofit? Whom does it help and how?

EH: In my travels as a young adult author, I have come across highly motivated young people who have career goals, but not the resources to accomplish them. These are often aged-out foster kids, or young adults whose caregivers have turned them out for whatever reasons. Our goal is to help them into safe housing and college. We are currently serving five young men and five young women.

There are three ticketed events at the lit fest, with all proceeds directly benefiting Ventana Sierra–the Great Slam (world class performance poetry), June 6 at 8 p.m.; and two performances of FLIRTING WITH THE MONSTER, the stage adaptation of my bestselling novel, CRANK, June 7 at 7 p.m. and June 8 at 2 p.m. VIP tickets include signed books, and Saturday VIP tix include the VIP reception where you can meet the cast and author, plus many lit fest authors. Tickets at the door or here: http://tinyurl.com/lyveywo.

TL: Are there any spaces left in the writing workshop? If so, what does it offer? Do participants have to go through a screening process? What are the dates, times, and costs? How can writers register?

EH: The Ventana Sierra Advanced Writing Workshop also directly benefits our nonprofit programming. It offers deep craft breakouts in three tracks (fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction), taught by editors, authors, poets and writing coaches; group critique; and access to four literary agents, including an agent speed dating session where writers can pitch projects. The two-day workshop is June 7-8, from 9 until 5. There are also optional Friday, June 6, intensives, guaranteed to elevate your writing. The cost for the two-day workshop is $350, but if you use the code LMW, there is a $50 discount. The intensive sessions are $100. Learn more and register at http://ventanasierraworkshops.com.

TL: What kinds of things are available free to the public? What kinds of vendors are signing up? How can the public learn more details?

EH: Free events are author readings, panels and book signings; an unplugged battle of the bands; storytelling; kids’ crafts, games and other activities; cooking with internationally renowned Kid Chef Eliana; a media swap meet where you can buy, sell or swap used books, movies and music. And some Friday afternoon sessions focused toward writers–a librarian panel–What’s Hot at the Library; a publisher’s panel–Publishing Models and Trends; literary agent Laurie McLean on Publishing Today and in the Future; and an open mic. These begin at 2 p.m. on Friday, June 6. And on Saturday, everyone who stops by the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators) booth will get a free book, courtesy of EyeCBooks. All details, including a schedule, author bios, tickets, etc., are available here: http://carsoncitylitfest.org.

TL: What Northern Nevada and Northern California authors are participating? I hope there are too many to list all, but please mention as many as possible!

Ellen Hopkins, Terri Farley, Suzanne Morgan Williams, Tracy Clark, Naomi Canale, Kim Harnes, Cindie Geddes, Kathleen Berry, Shaunta Grimes, Sally Mooney, Larry Messina, Robert Reid, Laura Newman, Grant Korgan, Ramsey Hootman, Barry Eisler, Ann Marie Frohoff, Jim Averbeck, Kristin Elizabeth Clark, Veronica Rossi, Patricia Newman, Linda Boyden, Eric Elfman, Yvette Schneider

TL: Do you need any volunteers for the event? If so, what kind of help will you need?  How can people volunteer?

EH: Absolutely. We can use volunteers to help direct festival-goers, check hand-stamps, work the kids’ craft and game booth, etc. To volunteer, email kelly@ventanasierra.org or call 775-384-2290.

TL: Two weeks out–how is it looking? Everything falling into place or controlled chaos?

EH: Controlled chaos, but everything will be in place before show time!

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