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!