Author Fest returns after 2-year hiatus

The book-signing and live-reading event brought together authors from around the state, including local writers.

Bette Slater Seres of Park Rapids talks about her children’s book “John J. Hammerlink and the Really Big Think” with Dan Perucco and Colin Perucco of New Brighton during Author Fest on June 18, 2022 at the Park Rapids American Legion. Seres’ book depicts a 7-year-old boy learning to use thinking skills.
Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise
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Live readings, book signings and an opportunity to meet local and regional authors were back June 18, 2022 with the return of Author Fest at the Park Rapids American Legion.

Author Will Weaver of Bemidji, originally from Park Rapids, discusses his books with Niomi Phillips of Park Rapids and Laura Larson of Minot, N.D. during Author Fest on June 18, 2022 at the American Legion in Park Rapids.
Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise

“It was just so delightful to be able to do it again, after not for the last two years,” said Sally Wizik Wills, whose business, Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery, sponsored the event.

Wills said the turnout was good, despite the threatening skies.

One of the authors was William Durbin of Lake Vermilion, whose historical novels are all based on true stories. They feature lumberjacks and fur traders during the Voyageurs era, early 20th century Finnish immigrants working in the mines, a Ukrainian Jewish family hiding from the Holocaust and a Finnish family from Minnesota that moved to Russia during the Great Depression and got caught up in Stalin’s purges.

Jeanne Cooney of Hallock, up in the northwest corner of Minnesota, shared a series of “cozy murder mysteries” with recipes in them. “They’re full of Scandinavian humor and a whodunit,” she said. Her titles include “Hot Dish Heaven” and “It’s Murder, Dontcha Know.”


Marie Nordberg of Park Rapids has a book signed by author John Enger of Bemidji during Author Fest on June 18, 2022 at the Park Rapids American Legion. He describes his literary novel, “Radium,” as an “on-the-road” story about bad-luck brothers who get in trouble and go on the run.
Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise

Former broadcast journalist John Enger of Bemidji described his literary novel “Radium” as an “on-the-road” story about bad-luck brothers who get in trouble and go on the run.

Stephanie Wilbur Ash of St. Peter promoted her new book, “The Annie Year,” calling it a grown-up coming-of-age novel “about a woman CPA in a rural town who has an affair with a vocational agriculture teacher and accidentally gets involved in a methamphetamine ring.”

Her husband, Geoff Herbach, teaches English at Minnesota State University, Mankato and was also a featured author, specializing in young adult novels involving sports. Herbach called sports “the candy on the outside,” adding, “I hope there are good stories underneath.”

Forensic psychologist Frank Weber of Pierz talked with visitors about his series of true crime novels, based on actual law enforcement cases in Minnesota. Meanwhile, Terry Smith of Bemidji shared “Code 4: A Memoir,” based on his career with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Joseph Gearity of Rochester and Lee Cornell of Hackensack talk with author Geoff Herbach and Stephanie Wilbur Ash of St. Peter during Author Fest on June 18, 2022 at the Park Rapids American Legion.
Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise

Other tellers of true stories included Wendell Affield, whose works include a Vietnam War memoir and a trilogy of nonfiction books about his family, based on documents he found in the chicken house on the farm he inherited from his mother.

“The earliest was written in 1822 by an Amstead who marched with Washington in the Hudson River campaigns,” said Affield.

Aided by his documents, he also writes about how his mother and stepfather got together through an “lonely hearts” newspaper ad, his mother’s struggle with what would now be diagnosed as borderline personality disorder, his parents’ dysfunctional marriage and his search for lost family members after growing up in the foster care system.

Staci Lola Drouillard of Grand Marais discussed her two books – “Walking the Old Road,” about an off-reservation community on the North Shore, and the newly released “Seven Aunts,” about the hidden lives of women in Minnesota during her parents’ generation.


Authors Lillian Holm of Park Rapids and Janice Springer of rural Nevis chat together during Author Fest on June 18, 2022 at the Park Rapids American Legion. Holm writes genealogy books and Springer writes poetry. “We like to share our stuff with the world,” said Springer.
Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise

Another author with Indigenous connections is Marcie R. Rendon of Minneapolis, who is enrolled at White Earth. Besides a series of crime novels set in the Red River Valley, she has also written a children’s book, “Powwow Summer.”

Local authors took the opportunity to showcase their work, including children’s author Bette Slater Seres, poet Janice Springer and genealogy writer Lillian Holm.

The event also gave this reporter a chance to reconnect with a beloved high school teacher, Doug Mayfield, who was there to promote his novel “The St. Patrick’s Day Hero.” Mayfield taught English at Crosby-Ironton High School when Robin Fish was a senior, 1990-91.

On Aug. 8, the transportation director gave the school board the first of what he said will be monthly reports going forward.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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