Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis will kick-off the three-day Decatur Book Festival on Friday with a keynote about their new young adult book, Wildwood. The event will begin at 8 p.m. in Presser Hall on the campus of Agnes Scott College.

Best known for his inventive and timeless melodies and lilting vocals, Meloy is the lead singer of indie band The Decemberists. Ellis, known for her illustrations of books such as The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart and The Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket, as well as album covers for The Decemberists, created illustrations for the fantasy novel of magic, wonder, and danger.

Continuing on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 3-4, the festival will host more than 300 authors and is expected to attract tens of thousands of book lovers to the historic Decatur Square.

“I’m thrilled about the line-up we have for this year’s Festival, and think we have something for any reader,” said Program Director Terra Elan McVoy. “We have a great combination of established, much-loved DBF traditions as well as exciting, new offerings.”

Other featured authors at this year’s festival include: Howard Wasdin, Hal Needham, Ann & Jeff VanderMeer, Shirley Strawberry, Jessica Handler, Joshilyn Jackson, Gregg Hurwitz, George Pelecanos, Robert Olen Butler, River Jordan, Jericho Brown, Jennifer Haigh, James Swanson, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, Kim Severson, Holly Tucker, Tom Perrotta, Mary Kay Andrews, and Karen Russell.

Special performances during the festival include a presentation by famed Southern writer Clyde Edgerton. Celebrating his newest book, The Night Train, Edgerton will share not only his writing skills, but also some singing and guitar playing as well.

Decatur-based singer/songwriter Caroline Herring, featured in 2010 on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor, will share her songs inspired by children’s books (including The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton, and Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak) on the Children’s Stage.

The fourth volume of Java Monkey Speaks: A Poetry Anthology will debut on Sunday night at 8 p.m. at Java Monkey Coffee House with an open mic and featured reading by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey, who is featured in the new anthology.

The Theatrical Outfit, one of Atlanta’s oldest professional theater companies, will present two separate stage offerings, including Calvin Alexander Ramsey’s world premiere drama The Green Book, and a first ever workshop of Tom Key’s stage adaptation of Eudora Welty’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Optimist’s Daughter. Caroling Herring and fellow singer/songwriter Kate Campbell will provide a musical component to this event.

The Atlanta Opera will also present a special preview of their upcoming children’s opera based on the tales of Brer Rabbit – popularized by Atlanta’s own Joel Chandler Harris.

The Festival will feature two children’s parades again this year. The Saturday morning parade will be led by Skippyjon Jones and followed by a presentation by Judy Schachner (Skippyjon Jones, Class Action). The Sunday morning parade will be a Pete the Cat theme, followed by James Dean and Eric Litwin sharing their new book (Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes).

For a full schedule and to see more authors, visit

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.