Authors will speak about histories, mysteries and more

| Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, 7:26 p.m.

If the idea of hearing one author speak is appealing, why not a whole bunch of them — in one evening?

“A Gathering of Authors” will showcase 17 authors, many residing in the Alle-Kiski Valley, at a free event Nov. 7, for the first time at People's Library of Lower Burrell. The library is celebrating its 85th anniversary.

Created in 2012 by Bill and Linda Davis of Brackenridge, and sponsored by Tarentum's Word Association Publishers, the event offers guests a chance to meet the authors, buy books, participate in a Q&A session and listen to the authors speak about their writing.

“Our first gathering had eight authors, then we grew to 12, and this time, we will feature 17. Our last event had a turnout of over 80 people. This one is our last of the year,” says Linda Davis, wife of participating author Bill Davis (C. William Davis III). “We have them about every two months.”

When book-store chain Borders closed nationwide in 2011, frequent guest author Bill Davis found he no longer had a local venue to discuss and sell his books.

“I was a featured local author at Borders,” Davis says, “and then, they closed, Internet sales of books boomed and the book stores took a hit.” Linda Davis approached Word Association Publishers and suggested “putting together a gathering of authors. They said it sounded like a great idea.”

Bill Davis, 69, has penned a three-volume mystery trilogy called “The Clive Aliston Mystery Series,” which introduces the reader to Pennsylvania Sheriff Clive Aliston, a no-nonsense lawman with a relentless crime-fighting side and a softer side.

“I've been writing since high school and — after I retired from Allegheny Ludlum — I wrote my books. I'm currently working on my fourth, a different book, featuring short stories.”

The books offered will represent a variety of topics: From Depression-era events to murder, from sports to religious sojourns, there is something for everyone.

Author Joe Szalanski, 73, never knew his father while growing up in Vandergrift. “My father died when I was an infant. When my mom died in 2002, I found my father's detailed journals of his travels as a hobo during the Depression.”

Szalanski wrote “Boarding The Westbound” in 2005.

“My dad left in 1932 when he was single, during the Depression, and was gone about four months. He was 22 years old, and traveled the rails as a hobo and made it to 48 states. He considered it an adventure. His journals were so detailed they provided the basis for the story.”

Szalanski has participated in several Gathering events and enjoys “interacting with the audience.”

Retired veteran reporter Pat Condelli of New Kensington dubs herself the “Cookie Queen” and provides free cookies at the Gathering evenings, and promotes her three books.

“I bring my cookies and sell them, too,” Condelli says. “It's such a great gathering, and the audience participation is so good. It's fun, it's interactive, and I love hearing all of the other authors speak and present their books.”

Condelli has written three books: “Royal Recipes From the Castle of The Cookie Queen,” “Hassle-Free Holidays,” and “Never Clean Another Toilet Again.”

Area libraries have played host to the Gathering group. “We always offer a raffle basket of books,” says Linda Davis,

“It's $5 a ticket and has a book from all of the authors, and the proceeds go as a donation to the library. The winner can have their books signed, too, while they are there meeting all of the authors.”

Each author has a five-minute presentation and, afterward, guests ask questions.

Word Association Publishers, Tarentum-owned and operated by Tom and Francine Costello, has published works for 25 years. The self-publishing company selects, accepts and edits submitted manuscripts.

Joyce Hanz is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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