Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Author Events

Hi all,

Last night, Joni, Rich, Leslie, and I went to see Robert Crais.  He is promoting his 17th novel and is on a book tour.  We saw him at the Belmont Library for an event sponsored by one of my favorite independent bookstores, M is for Mystery (in San Mateo).  It was a great event.  It followed the normal pattern.  The author starts at 7:00, speaks for a bit about the book, reads a passage or two, answers questions, and, then, at about 8, he signs books.  The bookstore sells the latest book and, usually, a few of the earlier ones.

Crais was very interesting, as most of them are.  I saw 11 authors last year, and I liked every one of them, except for one.  That was Candace Bushnell of Sex and the City fame.  She was a bit arrogant and didn't have much to say.  I might have felt that way because I was 1 of about 5 men in a large audience of women and felt awkward.  Oh, wait.  Actually, I didn't feel awkward at all, but I still didn't like her.

My point (yes, I have one) is that the author events are very cool.  They all give different insights into the publishing industry, and they all tell a different story about how they write, how they got into the business, and how many rejections they had before they were picked up by a literary agent and, subsequently, a publisher.  It is really fascinating stuff.

Let me give you a couple of anecdotes that I know many of you have already heard.  The first involves Richard North Patterson.  Joni and I saw him a couple of years ago.  He was promoting a book called Eclipse which told the story of a fictional African country and how one man stood up to a dictatorship that was centered on its country's oil - based on a true story that took place in Nigeria.  The book was  good, not great.  However, at the event, he also talked about his book from the year before, called Exile.  This was an excellent book (and on Josh's 2011 book list).  It tells the story of a Jewish male attorney that defends a Palestinian woman that he had an affair with in law school.  the story takes place quite a few years later.  In one incident in the book, the protagonist travels to Palestine and has an audience with a rebel leader who has to move every 24 hours to avoid the Israelis.  Patterson and his wife actually visited this man.  He said that it occurred to him while he was talking to the rebel leader (flanked by men with AK-47s), that if the Israelis found him right at that time, then he and his wife would be collateral damage.  How spooky is that?

The other anecdote involves an author that Rich and I particularly like, by the name of Sheldon Siegel.  His stories center on an attorney in San Francisco (Sheldon is also an attorney) who is partners with his ex-wife.  Each book is a murder mystery and a courtroom drama.  They are really entertaining.  A couple of months ago, Joni, Rich, and I went to see Sheldon at M (he lives in Marin County).  There were a total of 5 of us there, including our 3!  After he finished the program and the book signing (that didn't take him long!), we said to him that we were going out to dinner a couple of blocks away and would he like to join us.  He said yes, and we spent an hour and 15 minutes with him.  Besides being a good guy, it was fascinating to get some inside details about the publishing industry.  It was a memorable night for the 3 of us - and, of course, for him too!

I can go on and on about these author events.  I can tell you about seeing Ken Follett at Keplers and feeling like I was in the presence of a rock star.  I can tell you about seeing such luminaries as Daniel Silva and Vince Flynn, both New York Times bestselling authors.  The list goes on and on (as do I, evidently).  I strongly encourage you to try one of these events.  If you like it, let me know.  If you don't , keep it to yourself.

At the end of each blog, I will list upcoming author events and the venue.  I will only mention the authors that I like or that I think most of you will like.  There are millions of these events every year, so I've got to limit the listings.  You can always go to the websites of these bookstores and get on their emailing lists.  I think you'll be glad you did.


  1. Have you ever gone to see an author you've never read? Do you only recommend seeing ones that one has read?

  2. I'm a Jeffrey Archer fan on Facebook. He posted an interesting letter about his upcoming projects here:

    Not really an author event, but kind of...

  3. L,

    excellent comments on the book industry, and i'm impressed with the read list for josh. i'll not comment on the grammatical errors made (of course i will ;))

    "At the end of each blog, I will list upcoming author events and the venue", looking forward to this, as my wife and i will try to attend.

  4. Thanks so much for all of the recommendations! So many little time. I also enjoyed reading about your author experiences...especially the upclose with Sheldon Siegel (you and Joni get around, huh?) Now I def. have to read him! Regarding my personal experiences, I've meet many authors through Johnson & Wales (culinary writers); although the subject matter is not of interest to me, they all offered unique perspectives on the writing & publishing process. You also encouraged me to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (fascinating and almost addictive...the book is one of the best I've read in quite a while). And, I almost passed it up. I'm now into the second in the trilogy and am equally captivated. Has anyone read Freedom by Franzen? A friend thrust it upon me and eventually I suppose I'll read it, but I previewed a few pages and just wasn't drawn in. Any thoughts? Well...happy reading...and cherish that snow-free California weather :)

  5. I just finished "True Blue" by David Baldacci, thanks to a loan from the Sage's "bookmobile". It is a good read; fast paced, lot of action, and a lot of twists and turns until the end. Note: this is NOT in the Camel Club series. It is about a female cop just released from prison (she was framed) and tries to discover who set her up. She is aided by her sister who is the chief of the D.C police dept. I recommend this book.