COLUMBIA — Alex George went on a book tour in 2012 to promote his last novel, "A Good American." While enjoying book festivals from Maryland to Louisiana, it occurred to him that Columbia should have one of its own.
"There is a great hunger in the community for books," George said. "Why hasn't anybody thought of this?"
George began work on the Unbound Book Fest in 2014, and last month he finalized a place and date for the event: Stephens College on April 23, 2016, which coincides with the observation of William Shakespeare's birthday.
So far, George said numerous writers have shown an interest in attending. He hopes to bring New York Times best-selling authors — some of whom he knows — among others to the event.
The name "Unbound" was suggested by someone on Twitter. George likes the name because it applies to both the books and the festival, as writers will be discussing the process of making a book. He said the name "hints unlimited possibilities."
George said one feature of the festival will be interviews between authors. In addition to interviewing one another, writers will talk to other writers about the process of writing a book.
"It's an opportunity for readers to go into writers' heads," George said.
The idea to let authors interview one another came to him while promoting "A Good American" with fellow writer Eleanor Brown at Barnes & Noble. George noticed the audience was engaged in the free talk of the two writers and asked more questions because they could receive two answers.
"When writers get together, they talk about the process of writing: How they do it, when they do it, what sorts of pajamas they wear when they do it," George said. "People are always interested in that."
The IRS approved the nonprofit status of the festival last month, George said. The group plans to apply for grants and support services from the Columbia Office of Cultural Affairs, Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau and elsewhere.
Amy Schneider, director of the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau, encouraged the committee to move forward. She said the festival would bring visitors to town, as well as recognition to Columbia's writing community.
"I think a lot of people don't realize that we have as many successful authors in the area as we do," Schneider said.
George, who is also a corporate lawyer and owner of the George Law Firm, invited local writers, librarians and book lovers to serve on the festival's committee. The group's goal is to invite well-known authors from all over the country to Columbia.
Although preparation for the festival has just begun, George said the group starts small but aims high.
"I hope this will be a thing which, with time, grows to be an event that the town could be proud of," he said.
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