When it comes to publishing, there are certain things you should know. The Twilight books are not the only ones on bookstore shelves. James Patterson is as rich as you think he is. And women read. In fact, women make up 57 percent of the reading audience and purchase almost two-thirds of all books. Lastly, according to a Central Connecticut State University study, Pittsburgh is the fifth-most literate city in the country.
Two local authors, both from Mount Lebanon, know their facts. Gwyn Cready and Meredith Mileti also know that while Pittsburgh has events like Mystery Lovers Bookstore's Festival of Mystery, it's lately lost literary stalwarts like the Gist Street Reading Series and the International Poetry Forum.
So on Jan. 7, Cready and Mileti launch Women Read/Women Write. The book festival "celebrates the books women love to read," says Cready, herself a RITA Award-winning author of fun and sexy romances like her newest, A Novel Seduction. Women Read, she adds, is "a place where women [can] be as book-crazy as they [want] because they'd be with other readers who feel exactly the same way."
Mileti says the fest includes "informal interactions between readers and writers" alongside panel discussions. Topics include: Breaking Into the Business, Creating Strong Women Heroines, "Eat Place Write: How Setting Influences our Writing" and a discussion of the mystery genre.
Participants include a veritable Who's Who of national bestsellers who either are based in the Pittsburgh area or have local ties: romance novelists Madeline Hunter and Gaelen Foley; mystery writers Kathleen George, Casey Daniels, Kathryn Miller Haines and Nancy Martin; historical-fiction author Mitchell J. Kaplan; historical-fiction and young-adult author Heather Terrell; literary novelist Teri Coyne; and non-fiction author Julie Long.
"It doesn't matter to us if the books are literary or commercial, or if the authors are women or men," says Mileti, whose own debut, Aftertaste: A Novel in Five Courses, earned glowing reviews. "If they're writing the books women stay up late reading, we want 'em."
Cready and Mileta intend to make the festival annual. "We'd love to see it grow," says Cready. "We'd love to have as many authors as want to join us. We'd love to have it become a destination for readers in Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland. I'd love to see Pittsburgh host a huge book festival."
WOMEN READ/WOMEN WRITE BOOK FESTIVAL. Noon-4 p.m., Sat., Jan. 7. Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 301 South Hills Village, Bethel Park. Free. 412-835-0379