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Mystery Lover's festival brings big-name authors to Oakmont

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 8:04 p.m.
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Mystery writer Elaine Viets will be part of the Festival of Mystery on May 6, 2013, in Oakmont.
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The Festival of Mystery is a magnet for mystery lovers. Authors Marcia Talley, left, Elaine Viets, center, and former Mystery Lovers Bookshop owner Mary Alice Gorman at the 2012 festival.
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Mystery writer Dan Palmer will be one of about 50 authors at the annual Festival of mytery in Oakmont on May 6, 2013.

Novelist Elaine Viets says it isn't spring until the Mystery Lovers Bookshop's Festival of Mystery.

The Oakmont festival, which she describes as “writers' heaven,” has been a stop on the Florida-based author's “Dead-End Job” book tour for a decade.

“We love it when readers show up by the busload, line up around the building and buy books by the bag,” she says. “They're adventurous and willing to try new writers. They're also loyal. They come back every spring for their favorite author's new books.”

And they'll return to Oakmont on May 6 for the festival, which has become a tradition not only for those in and around Pittsburgh, but for mystery lovers across the country.

The Festival of Mystery takes place once again at the Dormition of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church in Oakmont. Doors open at 4 p.m. The festival program begins an hour later.

The festival offers the chance for readers to browse a wide selection of books and meet with authors from near and far, among them those published by Tarentum's Word Association Publishers and British novelists Ann Cleeves and Frances Brody.

An author interview program will give attendees the chance to hear from authors. Giveaways and raffles will also be part of the event. Now in its 18th year, the event will include about 50 authors. About 300 mystery lovers are expected to attend, according to Mystery Lovers' owner Laurie Miller Stephens.

“We have so many people that come to the festival year after year, both authors and attendees,” she says.

Last year, Stephens purchased the shop from retiring owners Richard Goldman and Mary Alice Gorman. She is happy to be able to carry on the tradition of what she describes as the “showpiece of what the bookstore is all about.”

It is important, she says, for readers to make a personal connection with those behind the words they are reading.

Those in the Pittsburgh area, she has found, support the unique opportunity for such connections that a shop like Mystery Lovers has to offer. “They value the fact that there is an independent book store that is expressing and promoting authors and ideas,” she says.

Authors attending the festival value that as well. “It's an annual event I'd never miss,” says Nancy Martin, the Pittsburgh-based author of the Blackbird Sisters and Roxy Abruzo mystery series.

Julie Kramer, whose current book “Shunning Sarah” is set in an Amish community, will be visiting the festival for the first time. The Minnesota author says she is “thrilled.”

“This will be my first time at the festival, but other authors rave about the opportunity it gives them to interact with fans.”

Author of the thrillers “Stolen,” “Helpless” and “Delirious,” Daniel Palmer says that there is a special connection that deepens the author-reader bond when meeting in person at an event like Mystery Lovers'.

“It's great to get an email from a satisfied reader, but when someone can look you in the eye and tell you that your book entertained them, or brought them to tears, or cost them a good night's sleep, it's a feeling like no other,” he says.

Julie Martin is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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