6BBF: Meet the Moderator- Amy Bradley-Hole

As we approach the Six Bridges Book Festival, we’ve been thrilled to talk to several authors, including Ross King, Mary Roach, Nichole Perkins, Adrian Miller, Felipe Milo, Rachel Mikva, Walter Ruby, and Sabeeha Rehman. (You should definitely go back and read their interviews). But what about the moderators — those not-so-invisible hands that help guide the conversations? We sat down with Six Bridges Book Festival Moderator Chair, Amy Bradley-Hole, and learned a bit about the magic that goes on before the curtain goes up.

Amy Bradley-Hole attending the 2019 Author Author party.

CALS: What is your role with the Fest?
Bradley-Hole: I am the moderator chair, which means I am kind of in charge of all things moderators: helping select moderators to pair with the presenters, keeping moderators in the know for the Fest, and getting the moderators trained. Mainly for the new ones, I help them get familiar with the format of the sessions. Tips and tricks.

CALS: Do the moderators come up with their own questions to use in the author sessions?
Bradley-Hole: Mainly they come up with their own, but I’m always willing to help those who are having writer’s block. After they’ve read the books, they naturally have questions they’re curious about. And they will have those prepared ahead of time. We also like audience interaction too. So, they do a good job of starting the conversations then turn them over to the audience.

CALS: How do you go about picking moderators?
Bradley-Hole: It’s definitely like a match-making service. We research authors and what their books are about. And brainstorm people who might be a good match for them. We want to pick someone who would enjoy reading the book and someone we are confident would be a good speaker. And we try to pick people who are connected to the author or subject matter and those who have a network of people, to help widen the audience. There’s a lot of responsibility with this, so we want good people.

Bradley-Hole on stage with Dorie Greenspan (right) and Elizabeth Minchilli (left) during the 2019 Literary Festival.

CALS: What are you looking forward to this year?
Bradley-Hole: I always want to do all the sessions, but luckily, I get to pick which ones I get to do. Poets do just a fantastic job talking about their job. They bring a lot of their personal life into it. The Arkansas Made panel looks interesting since I’m into arts and crafts. I like all the food ones. The other one that I almost did is Christoph Keller. Little-known fact: last year I became a certified end-of-life doula, so his session is intriguing to me.

CALS: What might surprise people to know?
Bradley-Hole: More often than people think, we have authors who come back and moderate. One author-turned-moderator, John Corey Whaley, was an author at the Fest a few years ago and this year he’s the moderator for TJ Klune. Jerusalem Greer is a moderator this year and she was an author in the Fest when her book, A Homemade Year, came out.

CALS: Have you had a favorite moderator?
Bradley-Hole: One that was kind of fun: my kids were moderators when they were boys. They were obsessed with Lego figures and we had someone who wrote a book that incorporated Lego figures, and it was fun to have kids involved. They did well.