Wisconsin Book Festival events coordinator Conor Moran has been a book lover for longer than he can remember. There are, he says, baby photos of him reading his Richard Scarrybooks at the breakfast table while his dad read the newspaper.
Hired March 1 by the festival's new host, the Madison Public Library Foundation, Moran has hit the ground running. He has coordinated recent events for H. Samy Alim's Articulate While Black, Jason Stein and Patrick Marley's More Than They Bargained For and David Rhodes' Jewelweed.
"Ultimately, I want people to think of Madison Public Library as a place to experience great book-related programming throughout the year," he says, adding that there will be year-round book events co-hosted by the Madison Public Library and Wisconsin Book Festival.
Moran brings to the festival three years as assistant events coordinator at Politics & Prose, a notably successful independent bookseller in Washington, D.C. In that position, he planned more than 400 events every year. In the process, he became the store's liaison for visiting authors.
"It was an incredible experience," he says. "Every night was something new. I got to hear the best minds in America talking about their books for an hour every day."
Those experiences helped solidify Moran's belief that books are an essential part of how we build community, a theme he comes back to often when talking about his ambitions for this new iteration of the Wisconsin Book Festival.
The festival, he says, will continue as an opportunity to draw people together from all over the state in celebration of ideas.
"I want to create a festival that represents the broader world of books and publishing while exploring the role of Wisconsin and Wisconsin authors in that world," he says.
Moran sees the festival as a means to strengthen Madison's community of readers and writers, both by sharing its voices and interacting with talents from outside our state.
Raised in Oconomowoc, Moran identifies as a Wisconsin boy.
"I'm definitely a Sconnie," he says. "I love it here. It's the first place my wife, Molly, and I wanted to be when we thought about leaving D.C. to start a family."
He is also a UW Law School graduate, though he got his bachelor's degree at the University of Iowa. In addition to coordinating events for Wisconsin Book Festival, he is REAP Food Group's development director.
Wisconsin Book Festival 2013 is scheduled for Oct. 17-20. With a goal of 10,000 attendees for 50 events, it will be a bit smaller than in previous years. Most events will take place at the new Central Library downtown.
Since publishers tend to book their events four months in advance, Moran can't confirm yet which writers will be coming. He promises there will be authors who represent the political, historical, fiction and poetry genres.
A new festival website should be up and running by mid-June. Soon afterward, staff will start announcing the names of authors committed to the festival.