Grotto Lunches/Tour Stops/Bookseller Cocktail Hour
We don't really know what to call these
events, but we've started having touring authors come by for coffee,
bagels, and some writerly conversation. Or lunch. We try to offer an hour of sanity
and good company for the writer exhausted by unfamiliar beds and
repetitive interviews, who wants to remember what it was like to be a
writer before they turned into a Traveling Author.
So far, we've had some wonderful writers
Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of
Desire, contributor to The New York Times Magazine, and former
editor at Harper's Magazine. We picked his brain about how he
conducts his research, conceives his stories, and writes his
Alice Seybold, author of The Lovely
Bones, and her husband Glen David Gold, author of Carter Beats the
Devil, came by the day after her interview on Fresh Air. Her success
was just about to explode. She and Glen talked about how they met at the
UC Irvine writing program, about combatting jealousy among fiction
writers, and of how The Lovely Bones originated.
Adam Haslett, author of the story
collection You Are Not a Stranger Here, came by during the month
his book had been picked by Jonathan Franzen for the Today's show's book
Paul Flores, who's excellent first novel Along
the Border Lies, spoke about the love/hate relationship with the small
press that published him. They gave him praise and encouragement earlier
in his career than most get it, which helped pull this novel out of him,
but upon publication they were underprepared to take advantage of how well
his novel was received. Along the Border Lies follows several
characters living on both sides of the Tijuana/San Ysidro border. The
story lines absolutely defy stereotypes, and are remarkably fresh. A great
read. Paul lives in Oakland and is educational director for Youth
Speaks. Okay, so he wasn't on tour, but it was cool to get to know him and
Phoebe Glockner, author of the very cool
illustrated Diary of a Teenage Girl, one of books that most
successfully blends serious text and comic art.
Then we started hosting pre-publication
events, where we invited all the local booksellers over, served some
wine, and brought in an out-of-town author to show off. It's been a chance
for authors to pimp their book before it arrives in stores.
First we had Jim Surowiecki, the New Yorker
business columnist and author of The Wisdom of Crowds. We also had about
50 booksellers. It went over so well that we've continued.
So we had Alan Burdick, who spent seven
years laboring over his wonderful book about invader species, Out of Eden,
a book that was later a finalist for the National Book Award.
Then we had Benjamin Kunkel, before anyone
had heard of Ben Kunkel. We hadn't heard of him either, honestly, but we
loved his novel, Indecision, which we had seen in galleys. Not a month
later his reputation soared when he hit the cover of the New York Times
Book Review with a rave from Jay Mcinerney.
So we've had quite a string of good karma
around the authors we've hosted events for.