LitQuake director helps festival write new chapter 

Literary agent Elise Proulx is also the executive director of San Francisco's LitQuake, which runs this year Oct. 3-11.

How has LitQuake evolved since its beginning? In 2002, it was a two-day festival and we only had a few events at the library and nearby venues, and to us it seemed like frantic activity. Now it’s around 20 times bigger.

What’s the best thing about the festival? Everyone’s always complaining about the publishing industry, about how few people read books and tolling the bell of disaster. It’s great to do something where I’m encouraging people to read, meeting writers and thinking about literature.

What makes our writers — and literary scene — different from those in other parts of the country? If you go to New York as a writer, I think it’s more competitive; people are comparing themselves against each other. In San Francisco, writers feel less competitive and more collaborative.

Are independent presses in the Bay Area surviving in the current economy? There are a lot of tiny presses here that have always been on a shoestring ... they’re persevering, and lots of times that’s because the person running it is a martyr for the cause. [laughs]

Everyone in the Bay Area is always so busy — do people really have time to read? A survey that came out a couple years ago shows that we’re the city that drinks the most and reads the most.

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Beth Winegarner

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