San Antonio Book Festival 2014. Photo courtesy of the San Antonio Public Library.
San Antonio Book Festival 2014. Photo courtesy of the San Antonio Public Library.

A book lover’s dream list of 89 authors will gather in downtown San Antonio for the third annual San Antonio Book Festival (SABF) on Saturday, April 11, the festival’s organizers announced Tuesday. The day-long festival at the San Antonio Central Library and the Southwest School of Art is expected to draw thousands.

San Antonio Book Festival Director and Co-founder Katy Flato.
San Antonio Book Festival Director and Co-founder Katy Flato

“The excitement really starts to build once we announce our lineup of authors and word starts to spread. People start planning what authors they want to see, what books they haven’t read yet, and whose signings they will attend,” said Katy Flato, the book festival’s executive director. “Our Literary Director Clay Smith does such a great job of picking authors and books that reflect big themes and literary trends. It’s a really excellent line up: diverse, multi-cultural, and multi-genre.”

Flato said  “war literature” will be explored in-depth at this year’s event, for example, with several major authors of war-related fiction and non-fiction confirmed to attend, including Michael Pitre, author of “Fives and Twenty-Fives,” and Ross Ritchell, author of ‘The Knife.” Helen Thorpe takes on the issue of women in uniform and combat in “Soldier Girls.”

Smith said “fiction is the big growth area” at this year’s festival.

San Antonio Book Festival Literary Director Clay Smith. Photo by Michael Thad Carter.
San Antonio Book Festival Literary Director Clay Smith. Photo by Michael Thad Carter.

“Our fiction program is really rich this year,” Smith said at the announcement party held at 1111 Austin Highway, sponsored by Guillermo Nicolas, a festival patron and the owner of the new multi-family development. “The beauty of the festival is our relevancy: we are really reflecting the most important ideas and issues of our time.”

In a city with a Spring calendar crowded with events, including the ever-growing Fiesta celebrations, the San Antonio Book Festival has proven to be a phenomenon, an instant success. The festival seemingly emerged out of the clouds in 2013, the brainchild of Flato, Smith, and Tracey Ramsey Bennett, the executive director of the San Antonio Public Library Foundation.

At first, the festival was an outgrowth of the Texas Book Festival in Austin, one of the nation’s top literary gatherings, but almost immediately spun off as its own entity as locals quickly embraced it. With little funding, marketing or advance publicity, the festival drew thousands in its first year, and the crowds grew in 2014. Even more people are expected to attend this year.

The festival is a high-energy mix of author presentations and interviews moderated by prominent locals, book signings, panel discussions, and for attendees, the opportunity to mingle and meet with authors amid a fiesta atmosphere of live music, food trucks, children, teen and and young adult literature centers, and a nonstop schedule of other attractions.

Texas Book Festival organizers estimate anywhere between 1,000 and 2,000 attendees for the inaugural event in San Antonio. Photo by Shane Kyle.
The inaugural San Antonio Book Festival in 2013. Photo by Shane Kyle.

Flato and Smith said there are no immediate plans to expand the event, although book festivals in Austin and elsewhere unfold over multiple days. Even now, the most dedicated festival goers here can only attend a fraction of the dozens of simultaneous author events. Smith said one of the festival’s draws is its tantalizing choice of authors.

The San Antonio Book Festival remains a volunteer-driven event that draws on the willingness of hundreds of volunteers to put on the festival. Flato and many in her organizing group work without pay. If the festival wants to achieve its full potential in future years, greater public and private funding, including corporate sponsorships, synonymous with major literary festivals in other cities, will be essential.

The Rivard Report once again will publish multiple feature stories and interviews with dozens of the authors between now and April 11. For now, here are the 2015 San Antonio Book Festival List of Authors (more information is available at the festival’s website:

Kenna Lang Archer, Unruly Waters: A Social and Environmental History of the Brazos River

Blue Balliett, Pieces and Players

Matt Barreto, Latino America: How America’s Most Dynamic Population is Poised to Transform the Politics of the Nation

Chris Barton, The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch

Diane Gonzales Bertrand, There’s a Name for This Feeling: Stories / Hay un nombre para lo que siento: Cuentos

Sheila Black, Wen Kroy

Scott Blackwood, See How Small

Jay Brandon, Shadow Knight’s Mate

Jen Bryant, The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus

Robert Bryce, Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong

Peggy Caravantes, The Many Faces of Josephine Baker: Dancer, Singer, Activist, Spy

Rosemary Catacalos, Her Texas: Story, Image, Poem & Song

Raúl Colón, Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes

Maureen Corrigan, So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why it Endures

Rachel Crawford, Her Texas: Story, Image, Poem & Song

Tracy Dahlby, Into the Field: A Foreign Correspondent’s Notebook

Rod Davis, South, America

Patrick Dearen, The Big Drift

Geoff Dyer, Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush

Arielle Eckstut, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published

Joann Eckstut, The Secret Language of Color

Lewis F. Fisher, American Venice: The Epic Story of the San Antonio River

Carolyn Dee Flores, Dale, dale, dale: Una fiesta de números / Hit It, Hit It, Hit It: A Fiesta of Numbers

Henry Flores, Latinos and the Voting Rights Act

Carrie Fountain, Instant Winner

Jack Gantos, The Key that Swallowed Joey Pigza

Xavier Garza, The Great and Mighty Nikko

Mary Carolyn Hollers George, Rosengren’s Books: An Oasis for Mind and Spirit

Jeff Guinn, Glorious

Robert L. Gulley, Heads Above Water: The Inside Story of the Edwards Aquifer

Recovery Implementation Program

S.C. Gwynne, Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson

J.R. Helton, The Jugheads

Juan Felipe Herrera, Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes

Joe Holley, The Purse Bearer: A Novel of Love, Lust and Texas Politics

Martha Louise Hunter, Painting Juliana

Francisco Jiménez, Taking Hold: From Migrant Childhood to Columbia University

Bret Anthony Johnston, Remember Me Like This

Sobia Khan, Her Texas: Story, Image, Poem and Song

Matt Lankes, Boyhood: Twelve Years on Film

Diane Lawson, A Tightly Raveled Mind

Andrew Levy, Huck Finn’s America

David Liss, The Day of Atonement

José Lozano, Little Chanclas

Josh Malerman, Bird Box

Seamus McGraw, Betting the Farm on a Drought: Stories from the Front Lines of Climate Change

Mark Menjivar, The Luck Archive: Exploring Belief, Superstition, and Tradition

Mary Guerrero Milligan, Her Texas: Story, Image, Poem & Song

Tomás Q. Morin, The Heights of Machu Picchu

Naomi Shihab Nye, The Turtle of Oman

Michael O’Brien, The Face of Texas

Richard Parker, Lone Star Nation: How Texas Will Transform America

Joe Nick Patoski, Sir Doug and the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove

Kate Payne, Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen

Jim Peyton, Naturally Healthy Mexican Cooking

Aaronetta Hamilton Pierce, Black is the Color of Strength

Michael Pitre, Fives and Twenty-fives

Neal Pollack, Repeat

Christopher Prieto, Southern Living Ultimate Guide to BBQ: The Complete Guide to Year-Round Cooking & Grilling

Kirstin Valdez Quade, Night at the Fiestas: Stories

Octavio Quintanilla, If I Go Missing

Isabel Quintero, Gabi, a Girl in Pieces

Eli Reed, Eli Reed: A Long Walk Home

Richard Reeves, Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II

Ross Ritchell, The Knife

Spelile Rivas, The Cucuy Stole My Cascarones / El Coco me robó los cascarones

Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, Latina/os and World War II

Lance Rubin, Denton Little’s Deathdate

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, Barefoot Dogs

Jan Jarboe Russell, The Train to Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program

and America’s Only Family Internment Camp During World War II

Mary Doria Russell, Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral

René Saldaña, Jr., Dale, dale, dale: Una fiesta de números / Hit It, Hit It, Hit It: A Fiesta of Numbers

Marian Schwartz, Anna Karenina

Cyndy Severson, Hill Country Houses

Maggie Shipstead, Astonish Me

Scott Simon, Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime

Mary Helen Specht, Migratory Animals

David Henry Sterry, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published

Natalia Sylvester, Chasing the Sun

Don Tate, The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch

Terry Thompson-Anderson, Texas on the Table: People, Places, and Recipes

Celebrating the Lone Star State

Helen Thorpe, Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War

Chris Tomlinson, Tomlinson Hill: The Remarkable Story of Two Families who Share

the Tomlinson Name – One White, One Black

Luis Alberto Urrea, Wandering Time: Western Notebooks

Amanda Eyre Ward, The Same Sky

Frederick Williams, Black is the Color of Strength

Lawrence Wright, Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David

Andrew Yang, Smart People Should Build Things: How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America

Emilio Zamora, The World War I Diary of José de la Luz Sáenz

Jennifer Ziegler, Revenge of the Flower Girls

*Featured/top image: San Antonio Book Festival 2014. Photo courtesy of the San Antonio Public Library.

Related Stories:

SA Book Festival Fiction Contest Ups the Ante

San Antonio Book Festival Even Better the Second Time

San Antonio Book Festival Will Draw Thousands Downtown

“A River Runs Through It…” Essay Contest Preludes Book Festival

Q&A with Katy Flato: Book Festival Director, Mother, and Author Groupie

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Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard, co-founder of the San Antonio Report, is now a freelance journalist.