Okay, so you probably can't tell by this picture, but the event last night at the Strand Bookstore, sponsored by the Women's National Book Association, was great fun. Despite the fact that I look about as animated as someone delvering his own eulogy, the crowd was appreciative and the energy was palpable:
And yes, I'm wearing my hipster T-shirt from Brooklyn pop-rockers The Mast.
Check out those stacks o' books! This was held in the rare book room up on the third floor, which is stacked floor-to-ceiling with, well, rare books, or at least books that are too valuable (being first editions and so forth) to just leave in stacks on the floor or shelves downstairs.
And as you can also see from this photo, there were actual human people in the audience last night, listening to what we were saying or at least sitting upright and laughing at all the right moments, which is pretty much all I ask of any audience. I'd guess there were about 50 people there, including maybe 6 o 8 from the WNBA, which is a hefty turnout indeed by Dave Maine standards.
There were five authors there, and we each stood up and introduced ourselves for about 5 minutes, talking briefly about our most recent books (which was, in my case, An Age of Madness). Then we all took questions from the lively and likeable moderator, Roz, and after that we took a couple more questions from the equally lively and likeable audience. Then we signed books, drank cider, and shmoozed for half an hour. A fine time was had by all.
I was particularly entertained by fellow panelist Ben Ryder Howe, who talked about his nonfiction book My Korean Deli. Ben is a WASP-y Boston guy who somehow found himself in possession of, yes, a Korean deli in New York City, which he ran for several years with his wife (Korean-American) and mother-in-law (Korean, now living in America). He is hysterical and the book looks pretty great too--a funny reflection on serious things, which can be an effective approach to such material. So take a look if you're interested.
Questions ranged from conversation-starters like, "How do you decide how to begin a story?" to considerations of things like how technology affects the way one writes. There was a question about revising and one for me about writing a first-person women's point of view. (My answer: it's not that tough, because we basically all want the same thing. I don't know if that's true or not--though I tend to think so more often than not--but it went down well and a couple of people even came up to me afterward to tell me that they liked what I'd said.)
So thanks again to the WNBA, and to the Strand, and to everyone who came out last night to hear us. It was a good time, and maybe one we can repeat at some point down the road...