Deep Valley Book Festival host local authors

Finding a good book can be difficult, but events like the Deep Valley Book Festival (DVBF) can give people books to read. On Oct. 1, the DVBF held an event for the community to come and meet 60+ authors. They also served food and beverages at the Book Festival Cafe and had drawings every hour for a chance to win a book from one of the authors there. 

One of the authors was a Minnesota State University, Mankato alum, Bryce Stenzel. Stenzel writes about Abraham Lincoln and local historical topics. He brought his eight books to the event to showcase. 

“My books on Abraham Lincoln – they’re written in dramatic glaze, but they’re all cited, bibliography everything just like you would do in a scholarly work,” said Stenzel. “I wrote it in dramatic play fashion because I want to get students involved and get them interested.” 

One of the books he spoke about was his book on the Civil War, which he co-wrote with Julie Schrader. The book is called “The Boy in Blue: Blue Earth County Minnesota’s Civil War Memorial.” The Boy in Blue statue in Mankato honors the sacrifices made by Blue Earth County residents who enlisted and died in the Civil War. 

“It existed in the 1980s, but by 1927 it was gone. In 2011, a group of us decided we would recreate this memorial,” said Stenzel. “ We put it back as our way of commemorating the Civil War’s 150th anniversary. It took us as long to rebuild that as it did to fight the civil war in the first place.” 

Another author at the event was Dr. Rachael Hanel, the Associate Professor of Creative Writing. She brought her memoir, “We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down,” and had an advanced copy of her book, “Not the Camilla We Knew: One Woman’s Path from Small Town America to the Symbionese Liberation Army,” which comes out on Dec. 13. 

Hanel got involved in the fair by knowing Schrader for many years. 

“Julie is the Festival Coordinator, and I’ve just worked with her in different capacities over the years on a volunteer basis,” said Hanel. “I like to read, and I’d like to write, but I believe in supporting authors in the area. So when she was putting this together, I said I’d help out.” 

Hanel is a journalist as well as an author. She got into creative writing after taking a class at MSU. 

“It was kind of by accident. I was a journalist for many years, but I took a creative writing class,” said Hanel. “In that class, I wrote an essay based on something I remember growing up. I really liked the process of doing that, which is where my memoir started.” 

The event was also an opportune chance for readers to get signed copies. Alanna Smith was at the festival, bought some signed copies, and had a great time at the event. 

“I got this one signed. It is ‘A Carrion Death’ by Michael Stanley. I also hope to get two of the books I brought by Curtis Sittenfeld signed,” said Smith. “This event is just a wonderful way to relax. I love books, so when my mother-in-law asked if I wanted to go, it was an easy answer.” 

If students want to find a new author or a new book, they can go to DVBF’s website and click on the author directory tab to learn more. 

Header Photo: Deep Valley Book Fair allows local writers to share their work with the community. Some of the authors include Minnesota State University, Mankato alumni. (Lilly Anderson/The Reorder)

Write to Lauren Viska at lauren.viska@mnsu.edu

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