Authors unite at inaugural local author bookfest

Brooke Curley Photo/Gila Valley Central: Local author Jennifer Griffith stands at her assigned table and converses with a passerby.

By Brooke Curley

SAFFORD – The inaugural local author bookfest drew the attention of roughly 25 writers and countless readers Thursday and was a smashing success.

Starting at 10 a.m., the Safford-City Graham County Library’s inaugural bookfest started out with a book fair and multiple author readings. Each local author was assigned a table where they could sell the paperback copies of their books and discuss them with individuals as they wandered the fair. Toward the end of the bookfest, there was also an author’s panel, where local authors answered questions posed to them by the attendees.

Brooke Curley Photo/Gila Valley Central: C. J. Anaya discuses her book with bookfest attendees.

Library Director Leanne McElroy told Gila Valley Central that the bookfest has been in the works for roughly a year, with multiple individuals in the community cheering it on.

“This is our very first local author bookfest,” McElroy said. “We had no idea how many authors would come.”

A whopping 25 authors participated the bookfest, and a steady stream of the public visited the event throughout the day. However, the key aspect of the bookfest was that all of the authors participating in the event were local.

“They’re coming from here,” McElroy said. “We do have some that came as far away as Nevada, but they went to high school here. They lived here, moved away and came back, and so that still counts as a local author in my book.”

Brooke Curley Photo/Gila Valley Central: The authors’ panel, from left, C. J. Anaya, Mike McCarthy, Leanne McElroy, Jennifer Griffith, Misty Thompson and Randal Dale, delve into the discussion.

Participating author Melissa Stevens has an entire paranormal book series set in Safford. She told Gila Valley Central that she had no idea that there were so many local writers from or in the Gila Valley.

“The book fair has been great, and it’s a better turnout than I expected,” Stevens said. “And I’m having a blast. I knew there were three or four different authors in the area, I didn’t know there were 25. If we do it again next year, I would love to come back.”

The library is intending to make the bookfest an annual event. If any local authors would like to participate, they should simply contact the library and reserve their place for next year.