Author Fest runs full gamut of genres and styles – Park Rapids Enterprise

Books featured at this year’s Author Fest were a diverse bunch.

Titles on display ranged from a children’s picture book with Finnish vocab words (and a postcard to send to your grandparents) to young adult novels, from true crime to fantasy, from biblical commentaries to accounts of local history, books of poetry and literary novels.


Jeff Krogstad of Belgrade signs his novel, “Fair Game,” for Rebekah Sundsrud of Park Rapids. “Fair Game” is the sequel to “Death on Disappointment Mountain,” while Krogstad’s other three books are biblical nonfiction.

Robin Fish / Enterprise

Jason Lee Willis of the Mankato area brought several novels that he described as “histories, mysteries, legends and lore.

“I grew up on Indiana Jones,” he said. “So I wanted to dive into that type of adventure story, where it’s both historical with some splashes of fantasy.”

Sue Leaf from Center City writes nonfiction books about nature, natural history and environmental issues.

“I’m trained as a zoologist,” she said, describing two of her books as biographies of early Minnesota geologist Newton Horace Winchell and ornithologist Thomas Sadler Roberts, while her later book, “Impermanence,” focuses on the natural history of Lake Superior and how erosion is threatening its shoreline.


Author Niomi Phillips, a seasonal resident of Park Rapids, signs her biographical novel “The Writer and the Engineer” for Bob and Linda Schissel, who taught locally for 48 years and now live in Burnsville.

Robin Fish / Enterprise

Frank Weber, a Brainerd- and St. Cloud-based forensic psychologist and author of now eight true crime books, said Saturday’s Author Fest was the first event where his latest book, “Scandal of Vandals,” was available.

“I’ve actually spoken to the son involved in the case as I was writing the book,” he said, “so there are details that were never public.”

Ned Netzel of Duluth was promoting “The Smoke on the Waterfront Cookbook,” dedicated to recipes from the Northern Waters Smokehaus. He said the book’s smoked meat and fish recipes are organized by season, with passages of lyrical prose and stories mixed in.

Jeff Howard of Brainerd brought his young adult novel, “Screw You, Van Gogh.” It’s based on his experiences as a high school counselor, when he would do a puzzle of Van Gogh’s famous painting, “Starry Night,” with his students.


Deanna Germain of Park Rapids watches author Brenda Massman of Northfield sign her novel, “Yet Here We Are,” during Saturday’s Author Fest.

Robin Fish / Enterprise

“It led to all kinds of conversations,” he said. “Depression is very serious for young people, as is anxiety. It makes it very difficult for kids in school nowadays, sometimes. This was a good way to get them started talking about it.”

Robert Saxton of Puposky discussed his book, “Shades of a Warrior,” set in the area around Grand Marais.

“This story came from a tale that I spun for my children, trying to encourage them to spend more time outdoors. I wrote it with lots of teachings about wilderness survival, awareness and northern folklore.”

Saxton complimented Beagle and Wolf Books for being great event organizers. “It’s always a thrill to be around thoughtful, interesting, creative people,” he said.


Patty Stephens of Park Rapids getting the book “Sensitive: The Hidden Power of the Highly Sensitive Person in a Loud, Fast, Too-Much World,” signed by co-author Andre Sólo of the Twin Cities. His co-author, Jenn Granneman, is from Lakeville.

Robin Fish / Enterprise

“I’m always impressed with how Park Rapids can get an excellent bunch of people out here,” said Howard.

“It’s really cool to look around and see how much talent and dedication come out of my home state of Minnesota,” said Netzel.

Weber, who has attended Author Fest several times, said he appreciates the chance to talk with other authors, adding, “I like that people come through and ask questions about mysteries and writing and forensics. I love answering those questions.”

“It’s nice to be able to connect with readers and see people enthusiastic about books,” said Leaf.


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