Bonus Episode: Ohioana Book Festival Preview

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Show Notes

This bonus episode celebrates the return of an in-person Ohioana Book Festival on Saturday, April 22, 2023, at the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Main Library. The day will include panel discussions, readings, activities, an on-site book fair, and a live Page Count podcast recording, among other offerings.

Festival authors featured in this episode who are scheduled to participate in the live Page Count panel, “Turning Points in a Writing Career,” include:

  • Mindy McGinnis, author of the YA mystery A Long Stretch of Bad Days
  • Ric Sheffield, author of the memoir We Got By: A Black Family’s Journey in the Heartland
  • Judith Turner-Yamamoto, author of the novel Loving the Dead and Gone
  • Andrea Wang, author of the picture book Luli and the Language of Tea
  • Felicia Zamora, author of the poetry collection I Always Carry My Bones

Additional authors mentioned in this episode: Abby Collette, Amanda Flower, Brad Ricca, Tom Batiuk, Kari Gunter-Seymour, Cinda Williams Chima, Tricia Springstubb, Margaret Peterson Haddix, Prince Shakur, and Will Hillenbrand.

For the full list of more than 150 participating authors and illustrators, visit Ohioana’s 2023 Festival Authors page. For more information about the festival, visit the Ohioana Book Festival page. We hope to see you in Columbus on April 22!


Judith Turner-Yamamoto (00:00):
"The past isn't dead. It isn't even past."

Laura Maylene Walter (00:06):
Welcome to Page Count, presented by the Ohio Center for the book at Cleveland Public Library. I'm your host, Laura Maylene Walter, and this is a special bonus episode celebrating the return of an in-person Ohioana Book Festival. That's right, after three years of virtual festivals, the Ohioana Book Festival is back live and in person for 2023.

Laura Maylene Walter (00:29):
The main event will be held on Saturday, April 22 at the Columbus Metropolitan Library. The day will be packed with panel discussions, readings, activities, and of course, the onsite book fair. I'll be there at the festival to host an author panel, where five participating authors will discuss turning points both big and small in their writing careers. This conversation will later air as a Page Count episode. As a preview for this panel discussion, I'm going to let the authors I'll be interviewing introduce themselves and their books. We'll start with Ric Sheffield, author of WE GOT BY: A Black Family's Journey in the Heartland, to be followed by Mindy McGinnis, Andrea Wang, Judith Turner-Yamamoto, and Felicia Zamora. Here's Ric Sheffield.

Ric Sheffield (01:14):
In the throes of a global pandemic and witnessing the decline of my 92-year-old mother who is being mercilessly consumed by dementia, while confined to an area nursing home, I tried to find something positive and productive to do for my family. As we anticipated her eventual death. I felt I needed to write down as many memories of family life as I could recall, glean from photos and diaries and conjole a lot of sometimes reluctant relatives. In effect, I tried to recapture some of the wondrous stories that were shared with me by my mother and grandmother, the two most influential persons in my life. I've been told on several occasions that I was brave to write such a personal book that my sharing of an intimate look inside a private family took great courage. Well, I'm not sure how much courage played a role. I simply wanted to give my family the gift of long-forgotten stories and rarely-if-ever revealed glimpses of what I came to see as a typical Black family moored in rural Ohio for generations. Yes, we exist, despite our invisibility, and persist despite our hyper visibility. We are that population of the community within.

Mindy McGinnis (02:33):
My name is Mindy McGinnis and I'll be at the Ohioana Book Festival in Columbus on April 22 with my new release, A LONG STRETCH OF BAD DAYS, which is a YA mystery involving an unsolved murder, 30 dead dogs, and a tornado that destroys an entire town. This book is actually based very much on the events that happened in my own hometown back in 1981, which was destroyed by a tornado then. And the cover really reflects that. My cover designer was wonderful and incorporated some of the pictures that I sent of what my hometown looked like before the tornado went through, and then what it looked like after. And so I'm just in love with the cover and I'm looking forward to promoting it and I will see you at Ohioana.

Andrea Wang (03:26):
Hi, my name is Andrea Wang and I'll be at the Ohioana Book Festival in Columbus with two picture books, WATERCRESS, which won the Ohioana Book Award last year, and LULI AND THE LANGUAGE OF TEA, which won this year's Floyd's Pick Book Award. LULI AND THE LANGUAGE OF TEA is about a young Chinese immigrant girl named Luli who finds a common bond with children from other countries through a cup of tea. I was inspired to write this book after hearing somewhere that the word for tea is very similar in over 200 languages. I wanted to find out if that was true and if so, why? I hope you'll pick up the book at the festival and see what I discovered.

Judith Turner-Yamamoto (04:14):
I'm Judith Turner-Yamamoto and I'm excited to be at the Ohioana Book Festival in Columbus on April 22. In my debut novel, LOVING THE DEAD AND GONE, a freak car crash puts in motion moments of grace that bring redemption to two generations of women and the lives they touch. In this work of literary and historical fiction, I revisit the tobacco farms and the textile mills of my red clay North Carolina childhood to create a personal story alternating between the 1920s and 1960s. You could say I've been writing this book since I was three, and experienced a similar sudden loss of a beloved young uncle. Inspiration grew from this first memory and blended with later parental perfidies. As William Faulkner famously said about the south, "The past isn't dead. It isn't even past."

Felicia Zamora (05:17):
My name is Felicia Zamora, and I'll be at the Ohioana Book Festival in Columbus on April 22 with my poetry book. I ALWAYS CARRY MY BONES, winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize and the 2022 Ohioana Book Award in Poetry. The poems in I ALWAYS CARRY MY BONES tackle the complex ideation of home, the place where the horrid and beautiful intertwine and carve a being into existence, especially for marginalized and migrant peoples. I explore my own complex familial history of being Mexican-American, biracial and from a low socioeconomic class in this country. These poems look to give power to the voiceless as sometimes we are haunted, but other times we haunt. It took me almost 40 years to write about my father whom I had never met, and these poems live inside this book. This is both a challenge and a joy as our art has both the power to heal us, but also the potential to rewound us in the process. It's important to understand that sometimes our art changes us. This book allowed me to speak of my own intimate experiences growing up in a motel in Iowa as one of the only kids of color, along with my siblings in our small town, the effects of being estranged from language and culture, and the ability to carve out love for the self despite the oppressions and hardship. I ALWAYS CARRY MY BONES is my fifth collection of poetry. I look forward to seeing you at the festival.

Laura Maylene Walter (06:45):
The voices you heard represent only a small sampling of the authors and illustrators who will be featured at the 2023 Festival. To name just a few more participating authors, Abby Collette, Amanda Flower, Brad Ricca, Tom Batiuk, Keri Gunter-Seymour, Cinda Williams Chima, Tricia Springstub, Margaret Peterson Haddix, and past Page Count guests Prince Shakur and Will Hillenbrand are expected to be there as well. In all, more than 120 Ohio authors and illustrators will be in attendance. I'll link to the full author list in the show notes. I hope to see you at the Ohioana Book Festival on April 22. Until then, happy reading.

Laura Maylene Walter (07:29):
Page Count is presented by the Ohio Center for the Book at Cleveland Public Library. Learn more online or find a transcript of this episode at, follow us on Twitter @cplocfb, or find us on Facebook. If you'd like to get in touch, email and put "podcast" in the subject line. Thanks for listening, and we'll be back soon for another chapter of Page Count.

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