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Meeting David Ebershoff and discussing The 19th Wife

I recently reviewed The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff, so when I saw he was coming to my local independent bookstore, Copperfield’s, I made a point of going to see him.

First of all, David is 40 but looks to be about 20. Seriously. (Sorry, David, I’m sure you don’t want me announcing your age, but if I look like I’m 20 when I’m actually 40, I’ll be announcing my age from the rooftops.)

I was disappointed to see that only about seven people showed up to see David, but I’ve found that that’s often the case at smaller bookstores where the author isn’t super well known. I mean, if I wasn’t a blogger, I probably wouldn’t have ever heard about The 19th Wife. (Again, I’m sorry, David!)

But instead of standing at the podium, all stiff and self-important while talking to only seven people, David had us pull our chairs in a circle and we just chatted. He talked about what he probably normally talks about when he gets a bigger crowd, but it was really cool because it was so intimate! I’ve never seen an author do this, and it’s almost embarrassing when they insist on using the microphone, stand at the podium, and deliver their speech as if there’s 50 people there, as opposed to only the five people that are there.


David talked about how he got the idea for the book, how he did research for the book (one of his stories had to do with how he thought he’d go to one of the Utah compounds and, you know, just interview a few polygamous wives. Needless to say, not only did that happen, but he was literally run out of town by the local sheriff.), and what it was like writing the book.

I know, you want me to tell you what he said, but I’m a horrible story teller, so I’ll just butcher what he said. So I’d just like to encourage you to check him out when he comes your way.

We did have an interesting discussion about where the responsibility lies with historical fiction and disclosing what is fact and what is fiction. David pointed out that he has a very extensive note at the back, letting the reader know that while the book is based on real people and real events, ultimately it is fiction. There are facts in the book, but many things are made up by the author, including a Wikipedia article that appears in the book. Ultimately, though, the responsibility lies with the reader to remember that it’s fiction and to do their own research should they want to take anything away as fact.

After David was done, I was the last one to get my book signed, and we ended up talking for almost an hour (part of the time while the employees were closing the store, and the other part outside while both of us shivered). He really helped me understand a book I was reading, The Screwed-Up Life of Charlie the Second, and it was his insights that will make my review that much better. He was great to talk to, someone who values knowledge and thinking and reading. I had to pull myself away from him, since he was so much fun to talk to, but we were both shivering from the cold. 🙂

David Ebershoff was a great author to go see, and I can’t wait until he puts out the next book he’s working on!

| Tags: , , , , 21 comments »

21 Responses to “Meeting David Ebershoff and discussing The 19th Wife”

  1. Nicole

    That is awesome. Sounds like my idea of a great night, nerd that I am. I have had his book since last fall and am dying to read it, but still haven’t. It’s a goal for this summer. Check up on me.
    .-= Nicole´s last blog ..Stop the Press! Do you disclaim? =-.


  2. Natasha @ Maw Books

    Wow, you talked to him for over an hour! When I met David in SLC, he was incredibly nice. I also remember when they first brought him into the room, I was like, “THAT’s him?!” Was not expecting somebody who looked so young.


  3. Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading

    That is so great you got to talk to him for so long!
    .-= Melissa – Shhh I’m Reading´s last blog ..Review: My Antonia by Willa Cather =-.


  4. rhapsodyinbooks

    You are so lucky to have had that opportunity! But I’ve gone to hear more “famous” authors where nobody much shows up either – maybe people assume it will be too crowded! Whatever, it’s so much fun for the people who do go to get all that one-on-one with the author, and probably in the end more valuable for the author as well!
    .-= rhapsodyinbooks´s last blog ..Influence of Other Blogs on Purchasing Decisions =-.


  5. Kathy

    Wow! That sounds like a fabulous way to spend the evening. I wish he’d come to my local bookstore.
    .-= Kathy´s last blog ..Quickie Blogiversary Contest Winner =-.


  6. Ti

    He’s coming to Vroman’s, which is sort of by me and I would love to see him but I have a conflict that night. Argh! He sounds wonderful! My book club is reading The Danish Girl in a couple of months and then I just won a copy of The 19th Wife so I am anxious to get to them.
    .-= Ti´s last blog ..Friday Finds: Wicked Plants =-.


  7. Meghan

    Sounds like a great evening to me! It’s awesome that you got to spend so long chatting with him. I really enjoyed The 19th Wife and have been looking forward to reading more of his work!
    .-= Meghan´s last blog ..Blog Tour Book Spotlight: Secrets to Happiness, Sarah Dunn =-.


  8. Pam

    This book has been on my must-read list since it was released. Now I want to read it even more after learning about how down to earth he is.


  9. sarah pekkanen

    What a great guy! I’ve heard that authors are all terrified of having a book-signing and having no one or very few people show up, but it sounds like David turned this into a special and memorable event for everyone. It sounds like he’s an author who really appreciates readers, which is wonderful.


  10. Michelle

    I’m so envious – I’ve only met one or two authors before, and I get completely starstruck….like, I’d rather meet a published author more than just about any other famous person in the world :). Unfortunately, living in a small town in Ontario, we don’t get alot of authors promoting their work in our area.

    Glad you enjoyed your time meeting David – can’t wait to check out his stuff one of these days. 19th Wife has been on my Amazon wishlist for awhile.



  11. Florinda

    I’m planning to go to David Ebershoff’s reading at Vroman’s in Pasadena (sorry to see that Ti can’t make it!), so I loved getting this sneak preview – I hope there will be more than 7 people who show up for it, but less than 50 would be fine with me. And you got to talk with him for an hour afterwards – how cool is that?! Thanks for telling us all about it, Trish – now I’m really looking forward to seeing him!
    .-= Florinda´s last blog ..TBIF: Thank book/blog it’s Friday! This week in books =-.


  12. Amy Reads Good Books

    Sounds like a great evening! Thanks for sharing. Knowing he was such an interesting guy makes the book all the more tempting!
    .-= Amy Reads Good Books´s last blog ..everyone is beautiful =-.


  13. Kathleen

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I hope he will come to my area as I would love to see him and have the chance to ask a few questions about his book. I read it for book club recently and did enjoy it. Mostly it made me want to do more research on the Mormon faith and the sects within the church (I studied History in college so I can’t resist wanting to do “research”) I’ve heard “Under the Banner of Heaven” by Jon Krakauer is another good one if people are interested in learning more.
    .-= Kathleen´s last blog ..Can’t seem to leave Columbine yet… =-.


  14. Wisteria

    That must have been such a special night. How awesome that you could talk to him in an intimate setting with such a small group. Then to be able to talk to him privately was just too good to be true.
    I was pleased as a historian and lover of historical fiction, that he was so detailed and careful about his responsibility to the reader.
    Thanks for your thoughts.

    .-= Wisteria´s last blog ..Sunday Salon-June 14, 2009-Flag Day =-.


  15. Lisamm

    I’m so happy you were able to go.. What a special evening! I’m surprised at the small turnout but really impressed at how he handled it- he’s such a down-to earth person. Sheri and I plan to see him at Vroman’s on the 22nd- I think Amy’s going too, as well as Florinda (hi, I see your comment!!). Can’t wait to meet him in person.
    .-= Lisamm´s last blog ..Summer Reading Series: Beach Trip Discussion Questions =-.


  16. Beth F

    Sounds like a fabulous time and super that there were just a few people around, because you really got a chance to chat.
    .-= Beth F´s last blog ..What I’m Reading Now =-.


  17. mari

    What a great night! I just received the book from him that I won from the GoodReads First Reads Programs. I can’t wait to get started. 🙂
    .-= mari´s last blog ..Book Review- Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson =-.


  18. Monica

    Ooh I am very jealous! I would have definitely joined you to meet David. I really enjoyed The 19th Wife!


  19. avisannschild

    That sounds awesome, Trish! I would have loved to have been there. The 19th Wife was one of my favourite reads last year.


  20. zibilee

    Wow! It’s really great that you got to meet him. I am hoping that he comes to my area sometime and that I can get to see him speak. I think the topic and execution of his book was just lovely, and would love the chance to tell him so!


  21. The 19th Wife | Amy Reads Good Books

    […] After reading a good review on The Three R’s and reading about a cool author talk on Hey Lady, Watcha Reading?, I decided to dive into David Ebershoff’s intricate novel about […]

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