There were 20 authors and each started at one of 20 tables. Every 10 minutes a bell would ring and the author would get up and move to another table. Each table hosted 8 authors. After the "speed dating" portion of the event was over, you could find authors for additional chats or get your books signed.
I arrived early as I wanted to make sure I got a good author table. I quickly scanned the complete list of authors and the books that were being sold at the event. I grabbed my card and headed to the book table.
Some of you know how I am when I get around books. I love the look of books, the feel of books and the smell of books. I have to touch each book. I was only planning on purchasing one book (#2 from the below list), but in picking up each of them and reading the description, well, I ended up purchasing 5 (plus a tote bag). Proceeds go to Bookmarks, so it's a win-win situation. Here are the books I purchased (and in the order I picked them up):
I came back to my table and enjoyed the light finger food refreshments being served. Three ladies at my table were from West Jefferson and volunteer frequently at Ashe County's Literary Festival. Two other ladies were from Waxhaw, NC and volunteer at Waxhaw Reading Room, a non-profit used book store. Many of these ladies were teachers and librarians. Initially I felt out of place. Lil 'ol me...I'm simply a lover of books. But then I realized they were as well, even if some made a profession of it.
At 3pm on the nose, the event began. Here's a list of the authors hosted at my table and my thoughts.
- Jenny Hubbard (And We Stay) - She's a local author living in Salisbury. And We Stay is her second book. She has draft manuscripts in her closet for the book that are as tall as her hip. The reason: she wrote the book using several different points of views before settling on the published version. She was a teacher at an all boys school, and has taught English and Drama. She's on the board at Lee Street Theatre and works with the St. Thomas Players. She's written a play, OrnaMENTAL, that was produced by the St. Thomas Players.
- Edward Kelsy Moore (The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat) - He visited from Chicago. I had seen his book on the table but it didn't interest me enough to purchase it. After listening to him, I've added it to my list of books I definitely need to read. He was so fun and funny. The inspiration for the characters in his book came from his own family. His grandmother was 1 of 14 children, so there was a whole lot of family around growing up. After dinner events the men would retire to the living room to sit and silently watch TV. The women would gather in the kitchen and gossip while cleaning up. Edward said he preferred to hang around the women since they were much more interesting. He also told us that after his editor called to tell him he'd made the New York Times bestseller list his first thought was that now his obituary would be interesting!
- Jennifer Cody Epstein (The Gods of Heavenly Punishment) - I've got to admit, I really didn't pay attention to much that Jennifer had to say. Her book had something to do with Japan and the war and bombing, etc. Jennifer studied Japanese history and even lived in Kyoto and Tokyo. She was very passionate about her book, but I'm just not into those kinds of historical novels. She wore dark brown nail polish and while she droned on and on I kept thinking how perfectly her nail polish matched her scarf.
- J. Dana Trent (Saffron Cross) - Dana is a Baptist minister and she met her Hindu monk husband on eHarmony.com. Her book is a memoir of how she and Fred got together and eventually married. At first I was afraid I'd lose interest as I did with the previous author, but Dana was very sweet and funny. Despite their religious differences, she and her husband have made a very conscious effort to understand and appreciate each other's faith.
- Drew Perry (Kids These Days) - Drew teaches writing at Elon University. As soon as he sat down we knew we were going to have a good time. He was very funny and highly personable. Drew wrote this book specifically because it scared him. Walter, the lead character in the book, isn't sure he wants to have kids. Drew was also scared of having kids. He mentioned that no one has a realistic conversation about not wanting kids so that prompted him to write the book. He also talked about his chimney sweep. A mannequin leg was tied with Christmas lights to the guy's vehicle. During a break in sweeping the chimney, the guy wants to show Drew something. Drew is thinking he's going to be killed in his own driveway, but instead the sweep pulls out another mannequin leg with a drink coozie sticking out of the top of the hollow of the leg. The idea was that instead of sitting your beer down, you simply put it in the coozie in the mannequin leg. This exchange will make it into the next book he's working on. This was another book that I didn't find interesting enough to purchase, but it's definitely on my must read list because Drew was so funny.
- Sonja Condit (Starter House) - This is Sonja's first book. She likes ghost stories so that fascination inspired this novel. She spent most of the time giving us a synopsis of the book, which makes me excited to have bought it. She did mention that she's created a town and all of her short stories, as well as this book, take place in this fictional town. While the town is made up, the house in the book is not. She mentioned there's a house she walks by every day while walking her dog and this real house inspired the house in the story. Ironically, her neighborhood house is not frequently occupied. Someone will move in and then move out within months. Haunted?
- Karen White (Return to Tradd Street) - Karen was probably the most experience author there with 16 books under her belt. She said she most writes what she calls "Grits Lit", or literature for girls raised in the South. She has three other books either coming out in hardback or heading to paperback: the time between, after the rain, and A Long Time Gone. She mentioned that the Tradd Street series could be read individually, but that the reader would probably like it better to start off with the first one and read up to this one. (Guess I'll have to see about the first 3 books!) She also told us that she's in talks with a major network to make the Tradd Street books into a television series. Her dog is a character in the book and she joked that she wanted him to have first right of refusal if the TV series went into development.
- Wendy Welch (The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book) - Wendy was the most down to earth author out of all of them. She even pulled out her knitting and worked on an afghan between signing books! She and her husband bought a house. They lived on the second floor and opened a used bookstore on the first floor. They did not have any money but they did have about 3,000 books between them. The first used books they sold were their own! Wendy told us they now have about 38,000 books. She and her husband renovated the basement and they live there, while the bookstore (which now includes a cafe) takes up the rest of the house.
I had a very lovely day and met some very lovely people. This is a fundraiser for Bookmarks and if they do it again next year, which I think they will, I'll definitely go again. It was just a really neat day.