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Book Signings, Readings, And Other Live Author Appearances

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A place to discuss the occasions where authors crawl out from under their typewriters into the harsh light of day to amuse and edify their fans in person.




Yesterday I discovered a radio show featuring live speaking engagements by various "storytellers". It's called The Moth Radio Hour. The second segment featured a fellow named Edgar Oliver, and after listening to him I'd swear that he's a relative of The Addams Family. He talked about his life growing up as part of a pronouncedly creepy family. And his voice! He sounds like Stewie Griffin (from Family Guy) multiplied by Boris Karloff. According to the host of the show that's his normal speaking voice.


You can hear the episode here.

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I'm a big fan of the mystery author Eileen Dreyer. She started out writing Silhouette romances under the name Kathleen Korbel (which is where I started reading her--those books are very intense social issue dramas more than they are romances), then started with medically-themed mysteries. She had been an ER nurse before she started succeeding as a writer, which turned out to be best because she was rapidly burning out as a nurse. My favorite of her early mysteries is Nothing Personal, with the main character being a burning-out ER nurse who was under suspicion when hospital administrators whom she had been arguing with turned up dead, one by one. (I read that book on a roadtrip with my mom, a nurse herself. After I finished, I gave it to her and it went around all of her nursing friends, who all loved it.)


When her first hardcover mystery came out, she went on a MIdwest booksigning tour, and came to Centuries and Sleuths, a history/mystery bookstore where I then lived (Oak Park, Illinois). I was there with her new book and one of her earliest Silhouettes in hand for her to sign. There was only a few people there (I'm guessing the others were store regulars since the owner knew all of them), and I was the only one who had read her before. She spoke for nearly a half-hour before signing, and she was really fascinating. She spoke about her nursing background, how she got into writing initially, and then defended the romance industry from the sneers she could see forming on the other people's faces. When she spoke about how those early romances were good for her and she thought well-written, I held up her Silhouette that I had brought with me and waved it a bit. She lit up (I think she knew then that I was a fan!!) and said that the book I had brought is still one of her favorites, even though it was only the second one she had published. She then went into the forensic training she undertook before diving back into writing her mysteries (she's now a certified forensic examiner). When she asked for questions, I asked her if she had based the murder victims in Nothing Personal on administrators she had worked for at the hospital; she laughed and then admitted that she had real fun writing that book in particular!


After she was done speaking, I waited for the others to have their book signed before I brought her the two I had. We chatted for some time before she had to leave for her next signing, but she was very happy to find a long-term fan of hers who had followed her into her new genre.

Edited by Sharpie66
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When it comes to meeting authors, I have been truly lucky. Too many for one post, so here are two of my favorite encounters:


Years ago, I attended a poetry symposium at Radcliffe Institute. I got to talk with Natasha Tretheway, Maxine Kumin, Jorie Graham, Alice Hoffman (I think she was there as an attendee), and a slew of others, including Mary Karr, who is famous for The Liars' Club, but writes powerful poetry. Karr gave a talk, standing at the podium of the church in which the event was held in a low-cut, push-up red bustier. Before she spoke, she turned and looked up at the huge cross above the altar and made some crack about getting struck by lightning. Later, I got to speak with her and I wasn't going to volunteer that I was getting an MFA in Creative Writing in the nonfiction track, but she asked (most people there were writers and/or writing students) and when I told her, she drawled, "Lahk I need the competition," and talked to me about craft. She was lovely. Intimidating, but lovely. 


In 1993, I was living in South Florida. I was at the mall getting last-minute supplies for my boyfriend's birthday party that night. As I passed a bookstore (something I rarely do), I noticed a lonely writer sitting at a table with stacks of books around him. To my great surprise, it was Carl Hiaasen, who was promoting Strip Tease. My sister and I were big fans of his newspaper columns and books, and I'd planned to buy the book anyway, so I grabbed a couple of copies and asked him to sign them. We started talking, and I kept checking to make sure no one was behind me, and there never was. He'd already had bestsellers, so this was good luck for me and bad luck for him (though a year later, when I tried to go to one of his readings with the husband whose birthday supplies had dragged me away from Hiaasen) lines were around the building. We talked for a long time and traded crazy South Florida stories and finally, I had to leave to get ready for that party. He signed both books with such funny, personal comments (referencing things I'd told him over the long talk) that I remain about half in love with him. My sister couldn't believe the inscription to her was so long and related to her life. What a doll!

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I was going to HP convention with some friends in Chicago when they wanted to go see an author at the time didn't know much about, John Green. He was doing something at the library down town. I went with because that is where they wanted to go. I of course afterwards read his book, Looking for Alaska. Which I loved and read in like a few days. I had no idea that he would go on to become petty well known.

Edited by blueray
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OK, this dates me a bit but I'll never forget the Goth explosion at my then-fave bookstore with the entire two-level store filled with all these folks in black and dark attire in one huge line. Unable to contain my curiosity, I actually yelled out loud "What IS this- Morticia Addams Birthday Party?".

  NO,  they cooly explained ,it was Anne Rice's book signing right after "The Vampire Chronicles" made it big! LOL. Oh well.

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Way back when, George Will wrote a baseball book, "Men at Work."  He was doing a signing at Chapters in downtown DC, so I thought I'd walk over after work.  The only other book signing I'd been to was Garry Trudeau signing a Doonesbury book and the line snaked through the entire store.  It was sign quickly and don't talk to Mr. Trudeau - too many people.  


So I get to Chapters, and there's Mr. Will sitting at a table in the middle of the store...all alone.  Which means I had to talk to him while he signed my book.  I don't agree with him on most of his opinions about, well anything, except baseball.  So I had that going for me.  


It was really awkward...  The book is quite good though.

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