Connect Savannah is very happy to again be a media sponsor of the Savannah Book Festival, happening this weekend. It's been a blast interviewing and writing about some of the featured authors this year, such as Dave Barry and Paula McLain.
This week's issue is a real keeper. We feature interviews with two of the most notable authors, both presentations free and open to the public: Former Vice President Al Gore, interviewed by Jessica Leigh Lebos, and Gregg Allman, interviewed by Bill DeYoung.
For me, there's a personal connection with this year's Festival as well, as I received the rare and humbling honor of being chosen as a presenting author. I'll make a presentation on my Southern travel books in the best–selling Moon guidebook series this Saturday in the Jepson Center at 1:30 p.m.
It's always awkward for someone in the media to promote something they're involved in. How do you do that, exactly? Do you get a co–worker to interview you? Do you just not mention it, hoping for the best, while everyone else busily promotes their endeavors?
Thankfully, the folks at the Book Festival bailed me out — sort of — by coming up with the idea to interview me. Book Festival Board Secretary Lesley Francis kindly submitted some fun questions.
Lesley Francis: Born in the same hospital as the great author Flannery O'Connor and having lived all your life in Savannah, how can you possibly be balanced in your book Moon Charleston & Savannah? You must have a favorite of the two cities?
Me: Well, that's the thing: There's no need to have a favorite. They're only two hours away from each other — why not enjoy both? Charleston is one of America's great food cities. In Savannah you can walk the streets with a cocktail. That pretty much says it all.
Drilling down, I'd say Savannah now has many more free and fun festivals, like the Book Festival, than Charleston does. Charleston's a good bit bigger, but there often just seems to be less to do there.
I will say Charleston gets a bad rap as being really conservative. The truth is Charleston tends to learn from its mistakes better than we do. Savannah's still pretty stubborn about sticking with things because we've always done it that way.
Lesley Francis: You've travelled a lot. If you couldn't live here, where would you choose, in Georgia and/or the whole world?
Me: As a UGA grad I'll always have a soft spot for Athens. My family and I all love the West, so I'd say probably New Mexico or Montana, two magical places. Being of Greek heritage, of course I'm going to tell you I'd love to live in Greece, which I've visited many times. But things are really challenging over there now. It's heartbreaking for those of us who remember better times in the old country.
Lesley Francis: Do you prefer editing or writing?
Me: Our operation at Connect Savannah is pretty streamlined, so I already do a fair amount of writing in addition to the management stuff. It helps keeps the chops sharp. What I enjoy most about editing the paper is packaging a really full and diverse mix of things for readers to enjoy. And of course sneaking in really subtle ways to promote myself.
Lesley Francis: Your next book is Moon Georgia. What surprised you the most during your travels in your home state?
Me: The first thing I discovered is how freakin' big it is. It's one thing to read that Georgia is the eighth most populous state and the largest east of the Mississippi River, but quite another thing to explore Georgia's immensity by driving all over it. Quite a challenge.
There are so many sites in Georgia with huge national importance, like Andersonville and the extensive FDR and Jimmy Carter sites at Warm Springs and Plains, and the MLK National Historic Site in Atlanta. There's also our incredible musical heritage, with things like the new Allman Brothers Museum on Vineville Avenue in Macon and all the James Brown stuff in Augusta. And most people have no idea of the Native American history in Georgia — there are three moundbuilder sites which were some of the largest cities in North America.
Lesley Francis: What was your reaction to being asked to present at the 2013 Savannah Book Festival. It IS quite an honor.
Me: It is indeed, and I'm totally stoked about it. As much as I enjoy interviewing authors, artists, musicians, and politicians, it's refreshing for me to be the one answering the questions for a change instead of asking them.
Lesley Francis: Are you excited about your very own Leopold's ice cream created as one of the Savannah Book Festival special flavors: Coffee Chocolate Chip?
Me: Well, you haven't really made it in Savannah unless you get your own flavor at Leopold's, am I right? I go way back with Stratton and Mary Leopold, so this is especially a huge thrill. Believe it or not, given my well–known weakness for both coffee and chocolate, I had nothing to do with picking the flavor.
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"And you deserve better."
Thanks, Jim, for my new campaign slogan.