More than the Words on the Page
I’ve been impressed by how different author events at the library can be from one another. Just in the last year, I’ve seen mystery writers Laurie King and Val McDermid have a conversation about writing, in which I found out that characters in Laurie’s novels have a dog they “adopted” from some of Val’s characters.
I’ve seen Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon interviewed by a San Francisco Chronicle writer and tell stories about his man purse and his lying to his children to cover up the fact that he threw away some of their elementary school art work.
I have seen mystery writer Elizabeth George recommend a book about the death of John F. Kennedy, Jr., and admonish the crowd not to tell give away important events to people in the crowd who had not read as far.
Writing, Publishing and Personalities
I always learn something at these events, about the individual author or the writing/publishing process. I have learned that some people are extremely disciplined and plan their writing well in advance, while others just write what comes to them and edit later. I have learned that a writer does not have to make every change that a copy editor suggests, and that an author has no control over the cover art of his or her books.
I have learned that even extremely successful writers suffer from self-doubt about their work. I have even learned that Swedish mystery writer Joe Nesbo enjoyed sunbathing before his talk, much to the delight of the some of the women in my book club.
I have also been educated by the crowds as well as the authors. I've monitored crowds to make sure fights did not break out in the signing line and have also watched people let others with fewer books go ahead of them.
I have never been to an event where I had not read at least one of the author’s books beforehand, but I discovered that many people go to these events to get ideas about what to read, which has given me the impetus to check out more events.
It’s really an amazing thing to be able to get up close and personal with people whose works I have read and enjoyed, as well as people who share that passion.
Get Out There
I highly recommend attending as many author events as you can. You just might learn something.
Image Information: Award winning author Water Mosley reads at the Belmont Library.
Meredith Burke Hammons works at Central Administration and on Sundays at Half Moon Bay. She enjoys cycling, kayaking, reading, writing, and research.