Saturday, November 6, 2010

Author Talks

I think I got spoiled when I was at Hamilton.  Okay, I know I was spoiled…but I’m just talking about one specific part of my Hamilton experience here: author talks.   As a creative writing major I was required to attend a certain amount of author talks every year, but now more than ever I’m realizing how lucky I was to hear Jayne Anne Phillips, Kelly Cherry and Margaret Atwood speak (and that was just during my senior year!).  And not only did these wonderful women read from whatever book they were promoting, but they took the time to talk about their craft, how they got where they are, and answer questions from us budding writers.  Each night was special and enlightening…not to mention Margaret Atwood was a hoot!

Nearly every author talk I’ve gone to outside of Hamilton has been less than special and enlightening, because all the author does is read from his/her book.  Yes, it was interesting to hear Suzanne Collins read Mockingjay in an Appalachian twang…but I can read those words for myself.  Or go out and buy the audio book.  What I can’t recreate on my own is a moment when the author gives insightful or practical advice and lets their readers really get to know them.  This seems to only happen in magazines or PR interviews…why not during author talks as well, when the author has the opportunity to talk directly to his/her readers?

I don’t want to completely knock authors talks.  Not one bit.  I am so lucky to be in New York City where I’ve been able to hear the likes of David Sedaris and Kate DiCamillo (And for the record, Kate DiCamillo is the exception to the rule.  Her talk promoting Bink and Gollie was the best I’ve heard in a very long time.  She was hilarious and managed to answer every question in a way that appealed to both the kids and the adults in the audience.  Go Kate! More author talks should be like hers.).  Most people don’t have that opportunity.  Yet, I want to make the most of those opportunities….so, authors, please add a little more of a personal touch to your talks and I’ll be right in the front row, a happy camper.

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