|Courtesy of icanhascheezburger.com|
Last weekend, I likewise cleaned out the very back of my brain, hoovering through the detritus and scraping off the barnacles clinging to the underside of my skull.
I went to a romance writer's conference.
I love romance writer's conferences. There's nothing like being in the company of hundreds of people who get your obscure pop culture references, have mad love for the same books and authors, and don't look at you funny when you do or say something particularly - odd. Er.
Really, it's like the mother ship calling me home.
This was the NJRW conference - my home chapter, my homies, my peeps. My sole goal was to have a good time, which involves networking and workshops and other professional things. Also some Sangria. And the 6-pack of Magners Cider I brought with me. Yea, a good time was had by all.
How good a time? Well, New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James gave a talk about the state of the industry - to published authors. As a yet unpublished writer, I was not eligible to attend (ahem). Katiebabs/KT Grant of the Babbling About Books blog, has an excellent recap of this seminar though that I highly recommend
The conference kicked off with New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak giving an excellent 3 hour workshop (you thought I was going to say tour. Don't deny it.) on creativity during which she had me say "enormous penis" into the podium microphone as part of an example on subtext, but that's a story for another day.
New York Times Bestselling Author Suzanne Brockmann gave the keynote speech and spoke on having to work to find the love place, the place from which she writes from that still believes in happily ever after even with our country in its current economic and social upheaval. New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander gave a wonderfully funny special presentation workshop (which I had the honor to moderate), and New York Times bestselling author (I'm sensing a trend here) Rachel Gibson wound it all up with her luncheon speech about - well I'm really not sure what.
Here's the thing. There are plenty of places you can go to read about the particulars of what went on at the conference. My chaptermate Nancy Herkness has a great round up on her blog, for example, including the hot firemen and a list of the Golden Leaf and Put Your Heart in a Book winners while KT Grant is continuing to post details throughout the week of the numerous professional highlights of the weekend.
I want to talk about something that's been niggling at me since Saturday. As I said, Rachel Gibson gave the luncheon speech. I've liked her books since my first days at Avon Books as an assistant in the late 90s, particularly True Confessions, which was recently re-released in one of those elongated paperback editions. This weekend was the first time I'd seen her in person and I was disappointed. I suspect she's shy; maybe she was having an off day. Perhaps public speaking is not her forte. Certainly, her position at the podium meant the microphone didn't pick her voice up well and that unquestionably contributed to the situation. But the speech was - odd. And I was - bothered. What's worse is this impression has stayed with me all week, to the point that I put aside her newest book, a book I'd planned to dive into this week.
So my question is this: does it matter when an author you like doesn't live up to your expectations in person? Does it affect your ability to enjoy their work, books you previously would have picked up without question?
Even though I really don't like time-travel books in general - time isn't cyclical people! - I am a ginormous fan of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. After years of reading every book in this series, several of them many times (and they ain't tiny!) I finally saw Gabaldon in person this summer at the RWA national conference and I found her to be - well - rather full of herself. I know she's quite actively involved with her readers; I've seen it with my own eyes. While dining at a pub in NYC that week, we saw numerous women led to an upper room where Gabaldon was hosting a Scottish-themed reader event. I also know, cause I'm a nerd who reads the small print in books and on web sites, that she's very involved in the Scottish communities, going to Gatherings and other cultural touchstones. Plus, her research is exhausting; whatever your feelings may be about her interpretation of the era, she's not phoning it in. But her attitude and delivery at the author's panel I saw in June was rather - smug. Also, the words "share the stage" do not appear to be in her vocabulary. I had to wonder, if I hadn't already read and loved the series, would I be inclined, after that experience, to start Outlander today?
What about you? Does the author-in-person experience matter in your choice of book? Have you ever stopped reading an author you enjoy because the real-life person didn't live up to your expectations? Do you think in our social media crazed world, an author's public face is more important than ever?
I have books - oy the books I have! - and will choose 3 random commentators on Sunday to each receive a book. Titles to come. Some people have said they have problems commenting; if this happens to you, shoot me an email at kiersten@kierstenkrumdotcom and I'll try to fix it.
For now, I have to return that call from the mothership.