Roanoke Author Invasion (RAI) hosted more than 150 readers through the doors of the Holiday Inn Tanglewood in its first hour on Saturday. The event, spearheaded by Liz Long, brings nearly 70 writers to the region from across the East, and a quick parking lot survey revealed license plates from Ohio, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Georgia.
The event grows each year, fostering community among writers and providing a connection point for local readers and a wide range of authors, largely of romances and novels of the paranormal. In this fifth year of the event, local writers K.L. Byles, Jane Fenton, and Emma Fenton were on hand, chatting with readers and selling books.
One of the first guests K.L. Byles spoke with was a reader who wanted to talk about the author’s first book, Rising Crow (Barrel Proof Press, 2015). “She really wanted to know when the second book in the series is coming,” said Byers.
“I’m working on it,” she added, “but the fire slowed progress.” Byles lost her 1908 landmark Montvale home to a fire in October. “Events like this help,” said Byers. “A community of writers that can learn from each other is important. The support is meaningful.”
At a table near Byers, Jane and Emma Fenton teamed up under the banner of Blue Morpho Books. Hand selling books might seem like a tough job for writers, but clearly the mother/daughter duo enjoy it. “We started the publishing company, and we really have to know how to do it all,” said Jane with a smile. “Who knew how much I’d enjoy marketing?”
Her 23-year old daughter, Emma Fenton, nodded. The Roanoke College graduate wants to write a blog and put out more books, following on the success of her young adult fantasy novel, Throne of Shadows. She wants to make a living from words.
At side-by-side booths, authors Stacey Rourke and Becca Vincenza are friends with ties to Michigan. There Rourke puts on a similar event, Once Upon a Book. “I can’t tell you how much I get from this group of writers, said Roarke. “It’s my tribe.” Rourke has been publishing since 2011 and has eight series underway. “The support is incredible. These people are incredible.”
As I left, the room was filled with chatter. Authors talked to readers, readers talked to other readers, and a volunteer team made sure everything was running smoothly. The DJ spun Seals and Crofts’ “Summer Breeze” as two women lugged out RAI branded totes heavy with books. They talked of the reading they had ahead of them. “Oh, boy,” one said. The other laughed—a sure sign that it was a good day—for both authors and their readers. Mark your calendar for early April 2020.