Authors to address domestic violence

Shannon E. Kolkedy for Central Daily reports

New York Times best-selling author Tawni O’Dell will address themes of domestic violence Sunday as part of a special community event featuring almost a dozen local authors.

The event, which is a joint effort between WPSU-FM’s “BookMark,” the Centre County Women’s Resource Center and the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, will feature O’Dell as the keynote speaker at 2 p.m. in the lobby of the Outreach Building in Innovation Park at Penn State.

O’Dell, who released her latest novel, “Sister Mine,” in March, is known for capturing the coal-town mentality of western Pennsylvania in her previous novels, “Back Roads” and “Coal Run.” Her characters also notoriously deal with physical and emotional abuse.

Abuse, O’Dell said, was prevalent in her blue-collar hometown in western Pennsylvania. “When I write, (I think) it’s kind of the job of a writer to address things that aren’t quite right in the world,” O’Dell said of addressing domestic violence in her novels. “It’s a very, very worthy cause, and any awareness that I can bring to the cause, I’m happy to do that.”

When looking for a featured author, WPSU looked for someone “who had something important to say and would draw a crowd,” said Cynthia Berger, producer and director of “BookMark.” “It seems like Tawni O’Dell is a popular author, especially being from the area,” WPSU spokeswoman Jill Filby said. “We’re hoping that she might have some avid fans in the area who will come out for the event.”

O’Dell will open Sunday’s event by discussing “Sister Mine” and the role literature plays in addressing serious issues in life, particularly focusing on domestic and sexual violence. After O’Dell’s talk and a question-and-answer session with the audience, she and nine other authors from across Pennsylvania will be on hand to meet with the public and sign copies of their books, which will be on sale at the event. “All of the authors have been featured on WPSU,” Berger said. “Some of them are people whose books have been reviewed on the show, and some have reviewed others’ books on the show.” Representatives from the Women’s Resource Center will join the authors at the event to provide information about domestic violence and related community resources.

WPSU also will open its studios and allow attendees to tape their own book reviews for possible use on an upcoming “BookMark” broadcast. Those interested should bring a prepared review of about 450 words that reflects something of interest about the author and how the book affected the reader. “All of the reviews on ‘BookMark’ are written by our radio listeners,” Berger said. “When I launched the show, the goal was to get all kinds of voices on the show. It’s average folks. It’s anybody … men and women from all walks of life.”