William Kent Krueger Loves Book Festivals

William Kent Krueger, second from right, interacts with several people at the 2015 South Dakota Festival of Books, where he was the One Book South Dakota author. Krueger attends book festivals because he enjoys meeting and interacting with readers and writers

William Kent Krueger is a longtime favorite of South Dakota Festival of Books fans, who enjoy meeting the affable mystery author. The feeling is mutual. 

Come Shake My Hand

By New York Times Bestselling Author William Kent Krueger

Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on Krueger's blog. We are re-posting it, with his permission, because Krueger articulates so well the reasons we believe book festivals are vital, especially during our era of digitally-dominated communication. 

March 20, 2018

Ten days ago, I participated in the Tucson Festival of Books. This coming weekend, I'll take part in Left Coast Crime, a conference devoted to the mystery genre, which will be held in Reno, Nevada. In September, I'll be at Bouchercon, the world mystery convention in St. Petersburg, Florida. And also that month I'll be a part of the South Dakota Festival of Books.

That's a lot of traveling, a lot of days out of my year. You probably think I do these things to promote my books. When I first became a published author, that was true. But I do them for an entirely different reason now, and here it is: Community. 

'Like Molecules Colliding'

In this day of instant internet communication, of Facebook and Snapchat and Pinterest and Twitter, human interaction has become virtual. We participate in list serves and chat groups. We email. We Skype. All well and good, but we don't shake hands. We don't hug. We don't sit down over coffee or a beer and really talk. We don't read faces or interpret body language or connect in all the ways our physical chemistry has evolved to help us understand one another as flesh and bone and blood human beings.

At a book conference or a book festival, I have that lovely opportunity to talk face-to-face with other authors and with readers who enjoy my work. We sit and share conversation. We absorb the humanness of one another. We create community.

During these events, I see people roaming singularly and encountering a friend or two, and they become a group, and the group meets another, and like molecules colliding, they form whole new relationships. In the end, everyone feels a part of something much larger.

William Kent Krueger at a panel discussion with author Sandra Brannan at the South Dakota Festival of Books.

Author William Kent Krueger at a presentation during the 2015 Festival of Books with fellow mystery author Sandra Brannan

Attending Festivals for Connection, Community

These days, I don't do these events to promote myself or my work. I do them because I love what comes from them, which is connection, community. I do them because I'm with people who, like me, value the power of the written word and want to celebrate that. And, lest I forget, one of the important reasons I continue to do them is because they're so damn much fun.

If you've never attended a mystery conference or taken the opportunity to visit a book festival, I can't urge you strongly enough to get off your duff and come. Like the song says, "What good is sitting alone in your room?"

To read more from Krueger's blog, "Kent's Rant's, click here. 

North Country Inspired Krueger's 14 Books

Krueger has presented at the Festival of Books several times, including in 2015, when his novel "Ordinary Grace" was the South Dakota Humanities Council’s 2015 One Book South Dakota. Dennis Lehane, author of "Mystic River," "Shutter Island" and "The Given Day," said he “loved” "Ordinary Grace," calling it “pitch-perfect.”

Krueger’s love and appreciation for the beautiful North Country in the state of Minnesota has so far inspired 14 books, including the award-winning Corcoran O’Connor series. "Ordinary Grace" is a standalone novel that Publishers Weekly called “…elegiac, evocative… a resonant tale of fury, guilt and redemption.”

Meet Krueger and Other Authors in Brookings and Sioux Falls This September

As South Dakota's premier annual literary event, held each fall, the South Dakota Festival of Books draws around 4,000 attendees and showcases more than 50 distinguished authors, scholars, and publishers. Attendees and speakers participate in panels, workshops and readings. Festival fans have opportunities to meet, greet and discuss literature with authors. 

The 2017 Festival was held Sept. 21-24 in Deadwood, Rapid City, Lead and Sturgis. The 2018 Brookings and Sioux Falls event will be held September 20-23. 

One Book South Dakota and the One Book author are central to the festival. We choose one book each year to promote reading and conversation across the state. Local groups and organizations can host a One Book South Dakota discussion via SDHC's Book Club to Go program. This year's One Book is "Informing the News" by Thomas E. Patterson. 

Most Festival events are free, but each year there are a handful of ticketed events that can be purchased on our website. Click below to read more about the 2018 event