Sunday, January 24, 2010

BOOKMANIA 2010, Morning

I haven't been back to BookMania for a couple of years, but this year the schedule of authors was too compelling to miss. That's me with one of my favorite authors, Claire Cook! Unfortunately, they still are running it as if a hundred people are showing up instead of the 400+ they've been getting the past several years. The regulars know what to do: they come first thing in the morning and dig in. They bring pillows to sit on (the chairs are just the stacking kind and not especially comfortable for an 8:30-6 shift;) they bring coolers and pack lunches and snacks and the smart ones bring a friend to guard it all for bathroom and booksigning breaks. More than once I overheard someone say they wished they could go buy a book and get it signed, but they didn't want to lose their seat, so I'm thinking it has to affect book sales. They had a food vendor outside with one person selling food, leaving a ridiculously long line to buy just a bottle of water, and only two tables to eat at. Nevertheless, despite all the logistical problems, it was a really fun day.

First panel of the day featured Masha Hamilton, Paulette Jiles, Sheramy Bundrick and James O’Neal (James O. Born). I wouldn't miss Jim for the world, he is hilarious! He was there to talk about THE HUMAN DISGUISE, his first futuristic crime thriller. He also talked about his day job as a cop, and how he found a good way to shake up suspects is to "accidentally" let them overhear things they will find upsetting. He gave the example of letting the guy with the Corvette overhear him call it a Chevy, and lets the musclebound guy hear him call him "tubby."

Paulette Jiles talked about her new book, THE COLOR OF LIGHTNING. She also talked about how sometimes a character she doesn't like gets stuck in the story and she has a hard time getting rid of them. She actually tossed out a 200 page manuscript because she hated the character. Sheramy Bundrick is a professor at USF, and her novel is a historical fiction book about Vincent Van Gogh. She did tons of research, but still it is fiction. She said that as an art historian, she was always finding fault with inaccuracies in books and films, but now that she's written this book, she's much more understanding of poetic license.

Next up was a fascinating discussion about Miami & Cuba, with Ann Louise Bardach (Without Fidel: A Death Foretold in Miami,Havana and Washington)and Gerald Posner (Miami Babylon: Crime, Wealth, and Power—A Dispatch From the Beach), moderated by Scott Eyman. Bardach hinted at the death threats she's received, including men showing up her door with machetes, and how Castro won't allow her back into Cuba because he didn't like what she wrote about him. Posner mentioned that his next book was on Vatican finances, and said that he's been practicing holding his hands above oven so he can get used to those eternal flames of damnation...

Around this time I finally got a seat, just in time for a discussion with Raykesh Satyal (Blue Boy) and Robert Goolrick, the author of one of my favorite books of 2009, A Reliable Wife. Satyal was a delight; warm and funny, and he even broke out in song! His book is an irreverent coming of age story of a young, gay Indian boy growing up in "white bread" Ohio. He said his character was very lonely, and felt like an outcast, despite having friends - "not your best friends, but the best friends you can get."

Goolrick was 54 when he wrote this first novel, and said he was greatly influenced by a nonfiction book, Wisconsin Death Trip by Michael Lesy, which was published around 1972. The cold, bleak Wisconsin winter, almost another character in Reliable Wife, was born from the Lesy book, and grown during several trips Goolrick took to a client in Wisconsin. Goolrick made an interesting comment, that he feels "the only thing that matters in life is goodness."

The next panel was dubbed FEMMES FATALES, and featured a couple of my favorite authors, the irrepressible Elaine Viets, the vivacious Claire Cook, and forensic scientist-turned-author Lisa Black. Black used to work for the Cleveland coroner's office for several years, and that's where her books are set. She changed the name to the Cleveland Medical Examiner's office, so she wouldn't be sued, but Cleveland just recently decided to change the name to the one she used! Her latest, Evidence of Murder, was loosely based on a real incident. For the past several years, Lisa has been working for the Cape Coral police department as a fingerprint analyst. She says her job consists of staring at fingerprints on her computer screen all day long, and "is as glamours as it sounds."

Viets was there promoting her most recent book, Killer Cuts, a Dead-End Job mystery. I love these books, and this one was particularly good. Her next book in the series is Half Price Homicide, and Elaine worked in a high end designer consignment shop to do her research. She said it was "the most dangerous job" she's ever had...Prada purses were calling to her, and even at half price they were still too expensive. The next book in her Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper series is about lingerie shopping, but she shot down the suggested title of "Tempest in a C-Cup"!

Claire Cook talked about her warm, witty characters that tend to reflect her own large, Irish family. Her protagonists are usually middle aged women and she likes writing 3 generations, so includes kids and grandparents. She also loves having the older generation have "adventures", usually sexual! Her latest book is the Wildwater Walking Club, and her next book, the Seven Year Switch, comes out in June. Claire always has contests offering free books and gifts on her website, so check it out!

Stay tuned for BookMania 2010, the afternoon!


Elaine Viets said...

Thanks for the report on BookMania!I really enjoyed the variety of authors they bring in, from serious fiction to genre. And it's a pleasure to see people lining up for books.
Claire Cooke is a hilarious speaker.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the report. I enjoy BookMania. From next year, I will take your tip and bring in a friend to guard my seat while I get a book signed. This is Diana from Israeli Uncensored News

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