I just got back from the Book Group Expo in San Jose. It rocked. Mostly.
I got to meet (and chat with!) Andre Dubus III (House of Sand and Fog and The Garden of Last Days), Jennie Shortridge (Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe), Garth Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain), Diana Spechler (Who By Fire), Kathleen Kent (The Heretic’s Daughter), Brunonia Barry (The Lace Reader), Michelle Richmond (The Year of Fog and No One You Know), and Annie Barrow (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society).
The Book Group Expo had a bunch of “Literary Salons” where certain authors were on a panel with a moderator, and theoretically the moderator would moderate for 15 minutes, and then open up the discussion to audience questions for 45 minutes. BGE tries to set itself apart from other panels with the amount of audience participation, but most moderators talked for 30-45 minutes, rather than the touted 15. The success of a panel definitely depended on the amount of preparation that the moderator put into it. Apparently, all you need to be a moderator is to be an author yourself and you have to read the books of your panelists. I have news for you, BGE: An author does not a good moderator make. Some authors were good moderators, but not all. Hopefully they’ll do a little better prep with their moderators next year.
I met softdrink at the Expo. We’d arranged it beforehand, but I was a little nervous, wondering what I would do if we didn’t really click. I totally shouldn’t have worried because we got along great. We’re even talking about going to the LA Times Festival of Books.
I was talking to one author, Michelle Gagnon (I’m linking to a part of her website that has her picture because I think she’s super cute) (we were talking about In the Woods and The Likeness, which we both LOVED), when this woman walks up and starts talking to Michelle because this woman thinks she knows Michelle from somewhere. I’m holding The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, and the conversation comes around to this book and the woman says that she has that book coming to her in the mail. It doesn’t come out until January, so I figure she’s GOT to be a blogger. I asked her if she was a blogger, and she said yes, so I asked where she blogs, and she said caribousmom!! I was like OMG NO WAY I’M TRISH FROM HEY LADY!!! (if you could please imagine me saying that in a very high-pitched-I-haven’t-graduated-high-school kind of way) That was so cool. She has great pictures on her site…I left my camera in my car in my haste to gather up all my books, so her pictures will have to do. Though I am lifting this one picture of all of us:
From left to right: me, softdrink, Michelle Gagnon, and caribousmom.
Softdrink and I had cocktails with a bunch of people, but I ended up mostly talking to Garth Stein. Here’s a picture of him:
Pretty hot, yeah? Hang on, don’t go anywhere. I have to tell Garth something, because he may stumble upon this post (don’t think I didn’t make cards and hand them out to anyone who made eye contact with me).
*clearing throat* Um, yeah, Garth? You may or may not want to continue reading. Not that it’s inappropriate, I just feel kinda weird. I don’t know if you want to read about me dissecting the behavior of the women who would talk to you. But if you do want to read about that, then by all means, please continue. Either way, though, just know I agree YOU WERE TOTALLY SCREWED OUT OF YOUR REVIEW IN THE NY TIMES. You can’t see me, but I’m totally giving them the finger.
Okay, so I talked to Garth for most of the time we were having cocktails. And he’s cute, yeah, but I’m very happily married. So I sat back and watched how the women interacted with him, and it’s nothing short of fawning. And lest you think I misconstrued their behavior, let me remind you I got 18 out of 20 on the fake smiles test. I’m good at reading people.
ANYway, we ended up going to dinner with Garth Stein, Carol Fitzgerald (co-founder and president of The Book Report Network (she runs Reading Group Guides and Bookreporter.com, among others)), Esther Bushell (who makes a living as a book group facilitator — how cool is that??), Joshua Henkin, and someone from Harper who I spent a lot of time talking to and forgot her name. Dinner was so much fun, as softdrink and I got to eavesdrop on the shop talk, which is oh so cool.
I met so many great authors, some I knew of before, and some I learned about at the expo. I will be featuring many of those authors and their books here, as you can’t be naive enough to think I didn’t buy anything at the expo. 😀