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Savannah Book Festival 2016: Erik Larson


Photo courtesy of the Savannah Book Festival

Written by Emilie Kefalas 

The 2016 Savannah Book Festival will host its keynote address speaker and acclaimed bestselling author, Erik Larson, this Friday Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. at the Trustees Theater in downtown Savannah.

In “An Evening with Erik Larson,” the author will discuss his writing process and his latest work, “Dead Wake,” which is tells the story of the sinking of the Lusitania during World War I.

“I plan to talk about how I like to go about writing history, using my latest book, ‘Dead Wake,’ as a lens,” Larson explained through an email interview. “One key part will be the process of finding ideas, and how for so-called ‘narrative history,’ only certain kinds of ideas can work.”

Born in Brooklyn and raised in Long Island, New York, Larson studied Russian history and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania. Following graduate school, he worked as a journalist most notably for “The Wall Street Journal.” To date, he has written and published seven books.

Larson is best known for his historical nonfiction stories, including “Devil in the White City,” which centers around the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and “In the Garden of Beasts,” which describes the career of an American ambassador to Germany during World War II. It was “Devil in the White City” which garnered him an Edgar Award in 2004 and is currently in the early stages of development for a film adaptation.

Though Larson is looking forward to visiting Savannah again, he is most excited to meet fellow readers and writers, he said.

Many of Larson’s fans are also writers. Asked what advice he would give to students fellow writers and writing students about his craft, Larson emphasized the significance of writing every single day.

“The only real advice I have is to just do it—don’t talk about it,” he said. “Sit down and write, and do it every day, seven days a week, for a couple of hours a day. If you wait for magic to happen, it won’t happen. Because writing really is hard work, and it’s the writers who actually finish the stories and books they start, who will succeed in the end.”

Those interested in purchasing tickets for the Book Festival can call 912-598-4040 to reserve tickets. According to the Savannah Book Festival website, all unreserved tickets will be released to the public for sale on Feb. 8. Larson’s keynote address will take place at the Trustees Theater, at 216 East Broughton Street on Friday, Feb. 12. A book signing will follow his presentation.


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