Over New Year’s Eve in New Orleans, Burlesque Press hosted the inaugural Hands On Literary Festival and Masquerade Ball. It was a great time. Over seventy writers and scholars presented their work, editors and publishers offered advice for aspiring authors, and everyone managed to find a mask for the New Year’s Eve ball.
From the start, the idea was to create a space where writers and scholars at all stages of their careers could meet and share their work, avoiding the hierarchies and status anxieties that have (perhaps) befallen other larger events in the creative and scholarly calendar.
The other goal was to have successful writers from all forms and genres present together, and see what new creative forces could be unleashed.
A personal highlight for me was the Plot and Suspense panel. I was able to present alongside two remarkable writers and teachers, Lynne Barrett and Bill Loehfelm, each of us offering the audience our best thoughts about designing a thrilling plot. We ranged over crime fiction, Greek mythology, fairy tales, Shakespearean tragedy, and the modernist short story, revealing the writing lessons contained in every literary form. It was a very cool time, and the audience seemed hooked. Here is YA author Madaline Herlong puzzling out one of my plot diagrams.
But it wasn’t just about work: one way that Jeni Stewart (the director of Burlesque Press) made the festival so relaxed and convivial was to feed everyone local delicacies and wine, as well as hosting a masked ball for New Year’s Eve.
Then came the masked ball. It was kind of spectacular.
The festival was a great success. Thank you to everyone who was involved!
Stay tuned for information on the 2nd Hands On Festival and Masquerade Ball, returning to New Orleans for this coming New Year’s Eve.