By Melissa Arnold
It’s pretty common to hear a creative soul say wistfully, “Someday, I’m going to write my book.” If this sounds familiar, an event this weekend might give you the motivation you’re looking for.
The Port Jefferson Free Library invites writers of all kinds to join them on Sunday, April 3, for a discussion and meet and greet featuring five local authors.
The panel, titled “Writing: The Process Within” will explore all aspects of writing, from brainstorming to publishing and everything in between.
This is the first time in several years the library has hosted a panel like this, and librarian Salvatore J. Filosa hopes it will have wide appeal to the area’s budding community of writers.
“We have a local author collection comprised of people who have visited over the years, and it’s definitely growing. There are so many aspiring writers and people who appreciate writing nearby, and even a number of writing groups throughout the county,” Filosa said.
There is a wide range of experience among the panel’s five authors — some work day jobs while others write full time; some are traditionally published while others pursued self-publishing; and they all have their own unique regimens and writing style.
Included on the panel are Stony Brook University creative writing professor Kevin Clouther; award-winning children’s book writer Thomas Whaley; journalist, playwright and author Joe Beck; nonfiction writer, novelist and history buff Ralph Brady; and novelist Erika Swyler.
Swyler, who now lives in Sound Beach, has earned national attention over the past year with the debut of her first novel, “The Book of Speculation.” Set in a fictional Long Island town, the book follows a young librarian who is sent a mysterious book that holds ominous, magical secrets about his troubled family’s past and future.
“The Book of Speculation” was featured as part of Barnes & Noble’s Discover program, and it was also named one of the best books of 2015 by both Amazon.com and Buzzfeed.
“It’s all very surreal,” Swyler said of the experience in a recent interview. “When you write a novel, you feel like it’s just going to sit in a drawer and only be read by your mom or your spouse. Knowing the book has gone so far is amazing.”
As a child, Swyler’s parents encouraged their children to explore both the arts and sciences equally. Growing up, Erika was an enthusiastic reader who frequented the Port Jefferson Free Library.
Her journey to becoming a novelist was a winding one. Swyler attended theater school and spent several years acting and writing scripts. Eventually, she said, those ideas became too big for the stage, which led her to pursue short stories and novels. Later, she was contacted by an agent who discovered one of her short stories online. The novel was published nearly a decade after that.
“Read as much as you can and write as much as you can,” urges Swyler. “There’s never going to be a moment where you think, ‘Oh, this is perfect!’ The important thing is to get the idea down on paper.”
The author panel will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 3, at the Port Jefferson Free Library, 100 Thompson Street. Light refreshments will be provided. The event is free but registration is requested by calling 631-473-0022 or visit www.portjefflibrary.org.