Year six for Santiago’s Idyllwild Author Series: Five writers headline varied series

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Eduardo Santiago, author, impresario and interviewer, promotes the sixth iteration of his Idyllwild Authors Series. Photo by Marshall Smith

Eduardo Santiago, author, impresario and interviewer, promotes the sixth iteration of his Idyllwild Authors Series.
Photo by Marshall Smith

Author, teacher, “book coach” and Idyllwild resident Eduardo Santiago smiled and shook his head as he recounted how his popular series began. “When you look back, what is odd is that I started this series just two months after buying the house in Idyllwild,” he said. He recalled starting without funding simply because he wanted to contribute to the town. “The beauty of this town is how many people stepped up to help.”

He remembered how Bill Shepherd attended the first author interview and presentation, and could not hear over the noise from cars on North Circle. “The second week, he brought a sound system and has provided sound for the series ever since,” said Santiago. “From that point on, the series developed a life of its own.”

Santiago is both impresario and interviewer. And for regulars, Santiago is as much a reason for attending as are his authors. He conducts interviews with humor and grace, making his authors comfortable and providing entertainment for his audience.

“What I ask is what I want to know,” he said, “how the writer’s life relates to the book they have written — their philosophy and approach to writing.”

Santiago had planned to end the series last year. “It was year five and I thought it was time to go,” he said. Then one of his students, Hollie Overton, got a major book deal. “She got her book accepted so I thought I have to do the series one more time,” he said.

Santiago has scheduled outstanding authors for series six, which begins at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 10, on the deck of Café Aroma. Santiago moved the time from 3 to 4 p.m. so that attendees could move to dinner at 5 p.m. at the cafe after the author presentation concludes.

Meri Nana-Ama Danquah, author of “Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression” (One World/Ballantine – 1999) opens the series. Danquah, featured author as part of Idyllwild Arts Summer Program’s Writers Week, recounts in memoir form how difficult it was to battle depression and find healing at a time when the image of black women was that of a strong and nurturing caregiver.

Born in Ghana, Danquah immigrated to the U.S. in 1973 at the age of 6 and lived with her family in Tacoma Park, Maryland. In 1991, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting and writing. Publicity for her book notes that “Willow Weep for Me” is a “startlingly honest, elegantly rendered depiction of depression in which Danquah rises from the pages, a true survivor.”

On July 17, Natashia Deon speaks about her well-reviewed book “Grace.” The New York Times notes, “With her debut novel, ‘Grace,’ Natashia Deon has announced herself beautifully and distinctively. Ms. Deon is not merely another new author to watch. She has delivered something whole, and to be reckoned with, right now.”

On July 24, Sid Gardner discusses his currently topical novel “Crossings, A Political Fable of the Near Future” depicting a 2016 presidential race in which one candidate wants to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants.

On July 31, author Dete Meserve (“Good Sam”) returns with her latest novel, “A Perfectly Good Crime,” continuing her ongoing mission to create fiction that is both exciting and uplifting. “I’m truly convinced that there is far more good going on in this world than the news media have time or commercial inclination to tell us,” said Meserve.

And on Sunday, Aug. 7, Hollie Overton, Santiago’s student, closes the series with her breakthrough novel “Baby Doll.”

In the upcoming weeks, we will interview each author prior to their Idyllwild appearance to provide Author Series attendees more information about presenters.

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