More than 100 authors in Martinsburg, W.Va.

November 10, 2005|by JULIE E. GREENE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Stephen Coonts isn't afraid to take a chance.

Coonts is probably best known for writing 1986's best-selling action-adventure story "Flight of the Intruder" and its sequels.

But the author, who is speaking at this weekend's first Apple Valley Book Festival in Martinsburg, hasn't stuck to one genre.

He's written science fiction (including the thriller "Saucer") and nonfiction (such as "The Cannibal Queen" about a flight he and his then 14-year-old son made across the country in a Stearman open-cockpit biplane during the summer of 1991).

One of his latest books is "The Garden of Eden," about a married man who gets caught in bed with another man's wife. The scorned husband sends the main character home at gunpoint, telling him to take his wife and treat her right, Coonts says.


"It's about a man who ends up with two wives in a little village (called Eden). It's supposed to be funny. It's a contemporary novel," Coonts says.

It's also a novel written under the pseudonym Eve Adams.

This was the first time Coonts, 59, had a book published under a pseudonym, although it wasn't his idea. It wasn't even an idea he really liked, he says.

"They (the publishing house) were afraid it might disappoint some of the action-adventure readers," Coonts said.

Charles Spicer, executive editor for New York-based St. Martin's Press, says publishing officials didn't think it would be fair to publish "The Garden of Eden" under Coonts' name because his readers are expecting a certain adventure suspense.

Also, publishers felt the book would appeal more to women and, from a marketing viewpoint, should have a woman's name on it.

"It was very clear it was a pseudonym," says Spicer. The book was marketed as being written under a pseudonym for a best-selling author, he says.

Coonts says he gets about six e-mails a day from fans, who can e-mail him through

"I answer all of them that aren't obscene," he says.

Few are critical, though there are people who delight in finding typos and technical errors such as the reader who pointed out a Glock pistol doesn't have a safety, he says.

Coonts was interviewed via phone from one of his homes, a farm in Pocahontas County, W.Va. Coonts, who was a Naval pilot during the Vietnam War, stored his twin-engine plane at the Hagerstown area airport when he was living near Columbia, Md., in the late 1990s.

Coonts will talk about his career, how he got into writing, about his books and characters and about how others can get published when he speaks at the Roundhouse Center, 100 E. Liberty St., from 11 a.m. to noon Friday, Nov. 11.

From there he goes to the Historic Shenandoah Hotel to speak at a noon luncheon, which costs $10 and requires reservations. Coonts will be signing his books at 2 p.m. on the mezzanine at Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library.

Most of the more than 100 national and regional authors attending the festival will be at the roundhouse during the two-day event. Also at that venue will be a Civil War encampment, more than 30 vendors, a Texas barbecue and railroad displays.

Live music will be performed at the Roundhouse Center by NewSong Festival winner K.J. Denhart and other festival performers, bluegrass by Ernie Bradley and the Grassy Ridge Band, and Civil War and railroad songs by Matthew Dodd.

If you go ...

WHAT: Apple Valley Book Festival with more than 100 regional and national authors signing their books.

WHEN: Friday, Nov. 11, and Saturday, Nov. 12

WHERE: Various locations in Martinsburg, W.Va., including Roundhouse Center, 100 E. Liberty St.; Belle Boyd House, 126 E. Race St.; Apollo Civic Theatre, 128 E. Martin St.; Historic Shenandoah Hotel, 100 W. Martin St. (entrance is behind video store); Martinsburg Mall; Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library, 101 W. King St.; and Queen Street shops.

COST: Admission to the Roundhouse Center is $10 each day. Admission to Friday's luncheon at Historic Shenandoah Hotel is $10. The 6 p.m. dinner at the hotel, featuring Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. is $20. Reservations required for luncheon and dinner; call 1-800-498-2386. Other events are free.

MORE: For a complete list of authors and a schedule, go to and click on the Apple Valley Book Festival image or call 1-800-498-2386.

Other authors include Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr., CNN founding Financial Editor Myron Kandel, former Washington Redskins player and children's book author Ken Harvey, and local authors such as Susan Crites, Ethel Wayble Bovey, Dan Mace and Tim Rowland.

Six children's authors will be in the Children's Department at the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library on Friday. Call 1-304-267-8933 for more information about festival events at the library.

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