Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Thanks for all of your well wishes. Unfortunately, I’ve still got the head cold from hell…if anyone knows of a doctor who will perform a head and lung transplant, please let me know.
However, I have moved past the "kleenex in hand at all times" stage of the cold, so I’m back to blogging. You have probably already seen Trish's and Wendy’s posts about the Book Group Expo, so I’m pretty much old news at this point. But oh well…I’m still gonna gush, because I had a terrific time.
And to prove to you how much of a dork about books I really am, I will first confess to getting up at 4:30am on a Saturday morning. I was on the road at 5:45am for the 3 hour drive to the San Jose Convention Center, site of Chapter Three of the Book Group Expo. Here are some of the highlights from the two days:
- I met Trish. Who seemed to like me. Thank god.
- The first author panel consisted of Diana Spechler and Andre Dubus. When Trish and I ran into Andre later, we both confessed to hating House of Sand and Fog. And he seemed okay with that. Diana Spechler just published her first novel (and she’s not even 30 yet!), Who By Fire. Stay tuned for my review of her book…and a possible guest post from the author.
- The second salon that I went to was Historical Friction. I chose this salon because I totally loved C.W. Gortner’s book The Last Queen, and he was on the panel, along with Maggie Anton (Rashi’s Daughters) and Gail Tsukiyama (The Street of 1000 Blossoms). Memorable moments from this salon include Gail stating she wrote about the sumo culture because she “likes big guys in diapers” and C.W. answering a question that I asked about how he felt at the end of his book, since he couldn’t change Juana’s ultimate fate. He asked me how I felt, and I said I cried…he said he did, too. He added that he couldn't bear to continue her story, and that was why he ended the book at that point.
- The third salon for Saturday was Which Witch is Which, with Brunonia Barry (The Lace Reader), Kathleen Kent (The Heretic’s Daughter) and Erika Mailman (The Witch’s Trinity). Again, I had the opportunity to ask a question and I asked if they had any input in the cover art and how they felt about the covers of their books. The best response came from Kathleen Kent, who said that the girl on the cover of The Heretic's Daughter is from a photo she found in a box. It was taken in 1910 and is of a Latvian girl. She kept the photo pinned up above her desk when writing the book. Since I adore the cover of her book (it’s so haunting), I thought it was so cool to learn its origins. And I just finished the book this week, so there will be a review sometime in the next week. Also, Michelle Gagnon moderated this panel...I met her afterwards (she witnessed the squealing that was the meeting of Trish, Wendy and me) and she was great fun to talk to.
- The final salon I attended on Saturday was Bibliotherapy, with Ann Packer, Julia Glass and Dr. Irving Yalom. Despite the presence of two well-known authors, I didn’t find this salon to be as interesting as the others. I did learn that Julia Glass was an artist before she was an author.
- I met Wendy. And her husband Kip, who took this wonderful photo…
From left to right, it's Trish, me, author/moderator Michelle Gagnon and Wendy
- Saturday evening I got to hang out with Jennie Shortridge, Garth Stein and Joshua Henkin. Seriously. Thanks to Carol Fitzgerald from Bookreporter.com, who organized cocktails and dinner, I had the opportunity to meet these wonderful authors and feel like I was in the presence of royalty. I could go on and on, but I won’t. I did, however, buy Garth's and Joshua’s books the next day…something I never would have done had I not had dinner with them.
- Saturday night I also stayed at the St. Claire, which had the most comfiest bed I’ve slept in since the one time I got to stay at the Sheraton in Sacramento.
- Sunday morning started with a panel consisting of Garth Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain), Van Jones (The Green Collar Economy...which I would totally read if I read books like that) and Kristin Billerbeck (who writes Christian chick lit).
- Next up was Wedlocked, with Joshua Henkin (Matrimony), Jennie Shortridge and Sylvia Brownrigg. I went to this salon because I’ve read Jennie Shortridge’s Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe. In fact, I will be blogging about it on November 10th, as part of a TLC Book Tour. So I’ll be talking more about this panel then.
- The third salon for Sunday was Makin’ Whoopee, featuring Mary Roach (Stiff and Bonk), Karen Abbott (Sin in the Second City), Melanie Abrams (Playing) and Douglas Abrams (The Lost Diary of Don Juan). This was a hysterical discussion on writing about sex.
- And last, All Abroad, which I attended because I’ve been wanting to read Finding Nouf. And if you’re wondering how to pronounce Nouf, the author informed us it rhymes with loaf. This panel consisted of Zoe Ferraris (author of Finding Nouf), Jana McBurney-Lin (My Half of the Sky), and John Nathan (Living Carelessly in Tokyo and Elsewhere). The moderator was David Corbett (Blood Of Paradise).
Whew. I don't think I've ever put so many links in a post..but I didn't want anyone to feel left out!
I'll conclude with a comment from Joshua Henkin, who said he would love to see more bloggers at these events! So there you go...you should think about joining in the fun next year.