With so many authors visiting us at Wordstock this year, it’s been a bit difficult to keep up on all the buzz for their new works. Here’s a prime example that was just brought to our attention: Adrienne McDonnell’s new novel, The Doctor and the Diva, has been getting terrific reviews like this one in the Washington Post. While we’ve been trying our hardest to provide great coverage for all of our writers, this one slipped through the cracks. Which, if you read the review, is a shame.

McDonnell’s not the only Wordstock 2010 author with great book news right now, of course, and not the only one we’ve failed to bring to you. What about Lan Samantha Chang? Joseph Skibell? Ander Monson? We could go on.

The silver lining here is that the 2010 roster is jam packed with success stories like these. Which means that even if you don’t get a chance to do your homework before the festival, you can walk into the book fair and be assured of an awesome experience from one of the 200+ performers we’ll have onstage this weekend.

Guest post by Maile Meloy

MaileMeloyAuthor of Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, the book club pick of the Wordstock Festival, Maile Meloy will read and answer readers’ questions on Saturday, October 9 at 2 pm on the Powell’s Books Stage. That same day she will also participate in a panel discussion, “The State of the Story,” at 4pm on the McMenamins Stage.

People often ask me about the role of place in my stories, and lately I’ve been thinking about how the setting defines the characters or influences their actions. I don’t think of place as a character in itself, but the setting is usually essential—the thing I know from the start and the thing the story couldn’t happen with out.

In “Travis B.,” one of the stories in Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, a ranch hand meets a disoriented young lawyer named Beth Travis, who’s driving nine hours across Montana twice a week to teach a class in a tiny town near the ranch where he works. The story can’t exist without the vast breadth of Montana to drive across. That the cowboy drives that distance to find Beth, when she doesn’t show up in class, tells her what he couldn’t say in words. The last story, “O Tannenbaum,” could only take place in a rural place in winter, in the woods where people cut down Christmas trees, and where they would pick up a pair of hitchhikers with a broken ski, because otherwise the skiers could die in the snow. The place determines, to a degree, who the people are and what they do.

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