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Florida Heritage Book Festival Honors author, John Jakes as this year’s Literary Legend
John Jakes fans will have the opportunity to meet him when he is honored as a Literary Legend at the 6th annual FHBF Writers Conference banquet on Friday, Sept. 27, at the Renaissance World Golf Village Resort.
The statistics about John Jakes’ books are startling. The prolific author has written more than 60 books and numerous short stories. According to his website, more than 55 million copies of the “Kent Chronicles” are currently in print, along with nearly 10 million copies of “The North and South Trilogy.” He set a record by becoming the first writer to have three books on the “New York Times” best seller list in a single year.
Six of his major novels have been filmed as television miniseries.
John Jakes fans will have the opportunity to meet him at the sixth annual Florida Heritage Book Festival and Writers Conference. He will be honored as a Literary Legend during the FHBF banquet on Friday, Sept. 27, at the Renaissance World Golf Village Resort.
Jakes, a giant in the field of historic fiction, began his decades-long career in the historic fiction genre with his panoramic story of the United States, “The Kent Chronicles.”
“They have never been out of print,” Jakes noted. “The first one was published in 1974. They continue to sell handsomely. Oddly enough, I think it is the ‘North and South’ series that most people recognize, but the ‘Kent Family Chronicles’ started the whole thing.”
The “North and South Trilogy” is set during the Civil War period, with all three books best sellers. During the FHBF banquet, the Civil War period will be highlighted with a focus on two of Jakes’ books, “Charleston”
Jakes talked about his book, “Savannah,”
A third successful family tale written by John Jakes is the “Crown Family Saga”: “Homeland”
Jakes, however, writes more than history. When asked about other books and stories, he said he sold his first story when he was 18. That was science fiction. He said, “I’ve worked in science fiction, mysteries, that sort of thing, for many years.”
According to the author’s online journal he was also a fan of Western books. He wrote: “In the summer of 2007, WWA, the organization of professional writers dealing with the American West, honored me with WWA’s annual Owen Wister Award for a lifetime of writing about our frontier experience. I was thrilled and flattered by this unexpected recognition. I’ve never thought of myself as a writer of Westerns, though in the 1950s I wrote quite a few short stories and novelettes for the Western pulps, and one novel, “Wear a Fast Gun.”’
Western themes and subjects have been integral in other books, to include Custer and the Buffalo Soldiers in “Heaven and Hell,” the post gold rush explosion in “California Gold” and the building of the transcontinental railroad in the sixth novel of the “Kent Family Chronicles.”
Many of Jakes’ books have been made into TV miniseries. When asked if they are available on DVDs, he answered, “Absolutely. I am sitting in my office looking at my bookshelves and I have the DVDs of the “North and South” shows up there. They continue to sell rapidly. The programs themselves are shown around the world every year and I get very handsome earnings from those shows.”
He added, “Acorn media, which is an offshoot of BBC, put out DVDs of the three miniseries that are made from the first three Kent family novels. Last year, they put those out. So, they are available.”
As a caveat, Jakes said, “I always try to say that I’m not responsible for the content of filmed versions of my books, just the books themselves.”
Jakes, born in 1932 in Chicago, now lives in Sarasota with his wife, Rachel. He said he passes through St. Augustine frequently on the way to visit children in Jacksonville. The St. Augustine connections in his books come from “Charleston,”
Jakes said today he keeps busy with civic organizations. The Library Foundation of Sarasota County is dear to his heart. He said his first job was as a page in the Chicago Public Library. He is pleased FHBF will be supporting Friends of the Libraries as well as The St. Augustine Record News In Education program.
Visit www.fhbookfest.com for reservations to the Literary Legends Banquet or call Kathy Dvornick, 904-940-0194.