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INTERVIEW: Dennis Fabiszak On East Hampton Library’s 13th Annual "Authors Night"

Nicole Barylski

Hilaria Baldwin, Authors Night Founding Honorary Co-Chair Alec Baldwin, and filmmaker Rory Kennedy. (Photo: Rossa Cole /SocietyAllure.com)

On Saturday, August 12, the East Hampton Library will present the 13th Annual Authors Night fundraiser - the premier literary event of the summer - at the Field at 4 Maidstone Lane in East Hampton Village. The popular Hamptons star-studded summer soiree attracts over 2,500 attendees each year, who revel in the chance to meet the 100 featured notable authors.

We recently caught up with Dennis Fabiszak, Director of the East Hampton Library, about this year's benefit.

"We're really ahead on sales this year," Fabiszak told Hamptons.com. "We're looking forward to a wonderful night!"

How do you curate the list of participating authors?

DF: The past few years we've had an authors' selection committee that meets throughout the year and it's sort of a combination of us doing research on great authors and new books, vetting authors that contact us directly, and vetting authors that are recommended to us by their publishers.

Who's on the committee?

DF: Ryan Budhidharma, Ann W. Chapman, Sandra Crystal, Sara Davison, Rob Deichert, Stuart Epstein, Patti Ferrin, Isabel Furlaud, Emmie Greene, Amie Hadden, Valerie Heller, Judith Hope, Rona Klopman, Stephanie Krikorian, Keri Lamparter, Gail Parker, Celia Paul, Stephen Rosen, Janet Ross, Deborah Walter, and Dawn Watson.

This will be a particularly special year as Founding Honorary Chair, Alec Baldwin, will be joined by his wife Hilaria Baldwin. What does it mean to have them participate?

DF: We're thrilled. Alec and Hilaria are huge supporters of the Library, as well as Library users. Having both of them at the event - which is our biggest event of the year and raises a lot of money, which enables us to do free programs throughout the year - having both of them actually participating in the event instead of just as guests is really wonderful.

Are there any authors that you were especially excited to secure for this year's event?

DF: I'm excited that we have a huge amount of authors that have never been to the event before. We have some authors that we do have back year after year that are local and great authors and we always want to have them, but we try to bring in new authors and authors that haven't really done much around here. We've never had Alan Alda before and we have him this year. We have Dr. Eric Kandel, who won a Nobel Prize for medicine - we're pretty excited about that. Jessica Seinfeld is coming for the first time. Ann Brashares. Norm Champ. Malcolm Nance. It's really an interesting group of authors. One of the things the authors' selection committee focuses on is trying to have a wide range of subjects, so that we have something that appeals to everybody, and I think we really did a great job of putting that together this year.

Speaking of local authors, what does it mean to be able to give local authors a platform to expand their audience?

DF: A long time ago at Authors Night, we packed in as many authors as we could fit. As the event grew, we realized we need to scale down the number of authors. We've found that the perfect number for the size of the tent and number of guests is 100. So, being one of the local authors that gets selected, that hadn't necessarily been on the bestseller list is a special thing. We really think hard about which authors we're going to bring in. We're excited that we can have them here. Just like all of the other authors under the tent, their publishers have donated the books and they're here donating their time, which may be something that people don't realize. All of the books at the event are donated. None of the authors are paid. None of them even get travel expenses. Everybody is really here supporting the Library, including the authors that are there. That's what makes it a really successful event for us.

What about authors that haven't participated yet?

DF: We're always looking. We reach out to top bestsellers. It would be nice if one of these years we could get J.K. Rowling to come, or Stephen King, but we've had some huge authors. As the event grows and we get better coverage in the press year after year, we're able to attract some really interesting folks.

What will funds support?

DF: The money from Authors Night goes directly into our operating budget, and one of the things that we're proud of at this Library is that all of our programs are completely free, and that's something we decided a long time ago. We wanted everything to be open and available to any resident, and Authors Night is one of the ways that we're able to do that.

The event attracts over 2,500 attendees each year. Why do you think it's so popular with the community and visitors?

DF: Two reasons: for a $100 ticket price to get into the reception - that's one of the cheaper cocktail party tickets in the Hamptons, and it's still a donation since we're a non-profit, and we really put on a great cocktail party with great food and drinks. The more important reason is this is one of the few events that all of the celebrities, which are all of our authors, are here for the sole purpose of speaking with and interacting with the guests. People know that when they're attending our event, it's not just that you're going to see Alec Baldwin across the room or Robert Caro, and know that you're at the same event as them. You're coming to the event knowing that you're going to get a chance to talk to them and talk about their book or whatever you want. They'll sign your book and take a picture with you. That's the reason they're here. It's called Authors Night because it's really about meeting the authors, and there aren't a lot of events like that in the Hamptons.

The Authors Night Authors Book Signing Cocktail Reception will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. and Authors Night Dinner Parties will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets to the Cocktail Reception are $100 and Dinner Party tickets begin at $300.

For more information, visit authorsnight.org.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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