Monday, September 9, 2013

Being All Authory...


So most of the time I am sort of an imaginary author. I write books and do my online stuff and the degree of separation from reality is solid enough that it doesn't seem quite real. I am playing at being an author. But then weekends like THIS weekend happen... and it makes me feel both more real and more like a fraud...

Lemme e'splain...


We have a local bookstore owner who is FABULOUS. I think most of you know I am normally fairly awkward—definitely don't have the personality to cold call and invite myself places, but Robin Agnew of Aunt Agatha's Mystery Bookshop has approached ME and invited me to do book releases and be part of local book events.

So this weekend was the Kerrytown Bookfest. For those of you not familiar with Ann Arbor, Kerrytown is a little downtown shopping square where the farmer's market is on Saturday and the shops are the most Ann Arbory in town (think intellectual hippies), and Ann Arbor is a pretty bookish place—TONS of bookstores, publishers, binders, artists, and peripherally related stuff.

And Robin invited me to moderate a panel... Mysterious Sense of Place...

What this meant for ME was a FABULOUS excuse to read some GREAT books in preparation. The authors were Erin Hart, Cara Black, and Libby Fischer Hellman, ALL of whom I recommend! Man, did I have fun reading!

From Cara Black, I read Murder Below Montparnasse and Murder on the Ile Saint-Louis. Aimee Leduc is the detective and she is SUCH FUN! These books, too, hit exactly the tone I really would like to aim for in my mysteries. The cozies are a blast, but these, while they maintain a bit of zany and humor (in fact quite a lot) has more serious situations and crimes—there is politics and corruption and real life issues—I finally have a series to refer to when I get to selling What Ales Me (which I intend to do very shortly—just one final cleaning needed)

From Libby Fischer Hellmann I read her book that just came out this week, Havana Lost, and thought it was great—it takes place over thirty years and I loved the contrast of pre-Castro Cuba with modern Cuba. It is sort of a Mafia Family saga more than a mystery—suspense. And then I am mid-book on A Bitter Veil, a story about an American girl who falls in love with an Iranian grad student. The two of them marry and go to Iran just as the Shah is deposed... Only half done on that one, but enjoying it.

And then I fell IN LOVE with Erin Hart. Her books take place in the bogs of Ireland and pair an archeologist and a pathologist to find out what they can about these OLD bodies, but there is ALWAYS a parallel modern crime to go with the old 'crime'--I love that—the parallel thing. It is like the James Michener books of locations a bit, only an added layer of modern mystery. They're delicious. I am mid-book for Haunted Ground, which was her first (and was inspired by a true 'finding a perfectly preserved head of a red-haired woman in the bog). The other, the one I read first, is The Book of Killowen and I ADORED it, probably all the more because at the center of the story is a manuscript and the 1000 year old body is a scribe (and it brought me to believe in a past life I was probably a scribe, but that's for another day)--anyway, the writer in me can't resist books about books, and the double mystery, new and old, was fantastic.

[note my buy links are Indiebound—conversation Saturday really got me thinking about what we authors DO around here... promoting indie bookstores is a good thing--more on that later]

So ANYWAY... I moderated the session about sense of place, touching on why they'd chosen the places they did and how they instilled the stories with it to the extent that place was almost a character... these amazing authors were SO nice. Session went well... Dinner party Saturday night went well (I got to talk to Libby and Cara quite a bit there)... so much wisdom and talent...

And then there is me. Always awkward.  Anyone else feel that way when you rub elbows with such talented, amazing people? There are these alternating moments of 'look at the company I earned' and 'I AM UNWORTHY!'

A very cool experience, in any case...


17 comments:

Old Kitty said...

Lovely Hart!! You are not only super talented, amazing and utterly fabulous but you are also truly most NAKED!! The rest are unworthy to even stand on an inch of your shadow! Ahem! True!!!!!!!

Huge congrats on heading a panel of such luminaries!! Well done you!! I am so loving Aunt Agatha's bookshop btw!! Take care
x

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Sounds like a fantastic panel and a terrific excuse to read some great books!

There's not a day that goes by that I don't feel as if I'm hoodwinking people...that I'm completely unworthy of readers...

L. Diane Wolfe said...

How wonderful you got to host a panel. I've been on panels but never got to be the host.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

It sounds like you did a great job!

When I go to book fairs and author signings, etc., I always feel awkward around the "big names" - and yet, they tend to be the nicest people! :)

Tina said...

Sounds like a blast! Maybe some role reversal will help you in this situation. Suppose a little known writer were to finally publish her first book, and got to meet and talk to a writer she really admires, say Alyse Carlson, or Hart Johnson. She's be all starstruck and feeling unworthy...
Tina @ Life is Good

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Moderating a panel sounds like fun!

jack welling said...

Grapevine tells me your panel went swimmingly!

I missed you yesterday as I was out before the late sessions. I caught the early batch and after wandering, talking, session-ing, I was done. Ladies in Lit: I figured there'd be a great turnout.

I received a lot of inspiration from some of the visiting authors. Very invigorating. Great bookfest.

I didn't get to say "hi" to Dan Johnson. He was buttonholed by a young fellow who is just starting to write. Dan was working his magic to get the kid over the winter hump. Gotta love the give-back attitude.

Yea Tart !

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I think I'd love to sit on a panel. Honestly, I never imagine you as being awkward and you are definitely not an imaginary author. Quite the contrary...you're famous! Well famous in our circle.

~Sia McKye~ said...

I'm so glad you got to do something like this, Hart. Sounds like it was good for your ego and you say you're awkward but focusing on another's work helps to dispel that, to some extent.

C'mon, where's the pics of you being in author guise, Hart?

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Maurice Mitchell said...

Sounds like a ton of fun Hart, and I'd be humbled in that crowd.

Johanna Garth said...

A) I think we all feel that way...like we're playing pretend.

B) You are definitely talented.

C) I would have been intimidated too! But glad you didn't let that stop you and had an amazing time!

Unknown said...

You did a great job! You were very poised. It was lovely meeting you and I look forward to the next time

Southpaw said...

That's totally cool! Wow, you have been authory.

Cara Black said...

I agree, great job Hart - thanks for your thoughtful comments and lest people think we were too serious - we weren't - you wouldn't let us :)

Libby Hellmann said...

I second... or 3rd or 4th the others. You were a terrific moderator, Hart. Professional, not at all awkward, and you asked great questions. It was a pleasure to get to know you a little bit. Keep in touch!

Helena said...

How fantastic that you're now one of these "amazing authors"! And hell yes, I always always feel awkward in situations where I don't know everyone and I'm getting any kind of attention. Don't think that painful self-consciousness will ever go away. But I've been told I fake being confident pretty well.

And hey, What Ales Me has a very strong sense of place (Portland), so I think you're in good company with these writers.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Awesome, Hart, that you are going to be helping promote book events at the bookstore. Sorry I missed you Sunday. Sounds like you had a great experience.