Just when I was thinking the title of this blog was outdated, I up and changed my latitude -- a bit -- with a move to Sarasota. Now I'm much more in the thick of the Southwest Florida arts scene. Hope you enjoy my musings!
The first day of Book Expo America (BEA to those in the
know) is always a bit stressful. My
friend Wendi approaches the event like a military operation. She does extensive research and
prepares spreadsheets setting out where she wants to be when. (Some serious cloning would be required to do it all.) While I also do some research, when I start talking to Wendi about what's going to be happening, I generally
end up feeling like a kid who turns up in class having studied for the wrong
test. I was quite proud of myself when I realized before she did that author Sue Grafton would be signing
the galley of her latest book, W is for Wasted, at 10:00on Thursday morning. Don’t
worry, though. By the time we
arrived at the Javits Center, the signing had been added to
Wendi’s spreadsheet, a copy of which was clutched in my hands.
After the first frantic rush through the convention center
grabbing the galleys that were set out for the taking (an experience I always
liken to running with the bulls in Pamplona), I dumped my books in the shipping
area and consulted my list to decide where to go next. There is a lot of strategy involved in
getting the books that you are most interested in coming home with. (This is the reason to do your homework before you arrive.) In
addition to the piles of galleys, there are timed galley give-aways and
signings both in the booths of the larger publishing houses and in the
autographing area. I knew I wanted the
Sue Grafton book but there was also a galley give-away for Amy Tan’s new book at 10:00 and Richard North Patterson would be signing his latest book at
10:30. What to do?
It’s a bit of a blur but to the best of
my recollection I waited impatiently in line for Amy Tan’s Valley of Amazement and then headed over to meet Sue
Grafton. As you can see by this picture,
she is quite lovely and was one of an increasing number of authors who was
shaking hands with the readers as they came through the line. (Happily, I am not a germaphobe.)
Then I was off to get the Richard North Patterson book, Loss of Innocence. He was also quite engaging and didn’t take
offense when the guy in front of me “confessed” that he had never read any of
his books. I told him that he would be
stocking up after he read his first one (figuring it never hurts to flatter the
author a bit) and was rewarded with a smile from Patterson. He confided that he is really proud of
this book. (Surprisingly, no author told
me that they didn’t think their latest book was particularly good.) Then I was off.
The day went on and before I knew it it was time to get on
line for Scott Turow’s latest book Identical. Of course,
I’ve been a big Scott Turow fan since I read his book One L in preparation for
my stint at Harvard Law School. (It
wasn’t quite as scary as he made it out to be.) His publisher took the tack of handing the
books out to people on line for the signing well before they arrived at
the desk. The bad devil on my shoulder
made me take the book and run rather than wait for his signature. I did, however, get a nice shot of him
signing for someone else.
Throughout the three day event, there were loads of other
thriller writers signing. The line for
David Baldacci signing The Hit (out
this week) was so long that I knew I didn’t have the stamina to wait it
out. Nelson Demille was signing an
excerpt—the first six chapters of his newest work—so I passed him up as
well. Laura Lippman was promoting the
paperback publication of And When She Was Good. (My friend Lee overheard her apologetically
saying she wouldn’t have been at BEA without a new book out but she was in town anyway and the Mystery Writers Association prevailed upon
her. Hey, I’m not above taking a copy of
an older book that I haven’t had a chance to read yet.) I also picked up copies of the latest from
former prosecutors Linda Fairstein and Marcia Clark.
The last day of BEA historically has been somewhat quiet with fewer authors signing and publishers packing up
their booths. Wendi and I generally have gone just for a couple of hours to scour the floor for galleys that we
somehow missed over the prior two days.
Not so this year with the introduction of the “power reader” one day
pass. Over 2000 consumers made their way
onto the floor when the doors opened at 9, and we watched them walk around wide-eyed like kids in a candy store. (Just
to back pedal a bit, BEA is geared towards bookstore owners and librarians who
publishers hope will fall in love with their books and purchase them in huge
quantities. Educators—even more or less
faux educators like me—are also welcome to ante up their admission fee and
attend the event.) So Saturday was a
bit busier than usual, and the schedule included a signing by Jeffrey Deaver, whose Lincoln
Rhyme character is one of my favorites.
I was excited to get a copy of his latest, The Kill Room, and also to hear that
another movie is in the works.
(Apparently, there has been litigation over the foreign rights to the
Lincoln Rhyme character since the movie The Bone Collector starring Denzel
Washington and Angelina Jolie came out in 1999. He doesn’t know if Washington will be
reprising his role, but it’s something to look forward to either way.)
Since I’m still waiting for the two boxes of books that I shipped to arrive, I can’t give you an accurate count of how many books I brought
home with me or how many of those books are thrillers. My off-the-cuff estimate is 125 books in
total, at least 30 of which fall into the thriller genre. If I'm a little jumpy the
next time you see me, you’ll know why.