Dear bookish reader,
Several years ago I attended the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association trade show in Portland, Oregon. I went with Melissa Behnke, the co-owner of Fireside Books. It was so serious and so fun. We were bona fide booksellers with empty suitcases and notebooks, setting out on an important mission — to learn more about our trade and to discover, and bring home, exciting new books.
But we were also book lovers in a land of books. We went on giddy binges of greed, walking the trade show floor and filling our arms with free books. We sat in on panel discussions and visited with other booksellers. We talked books, and talked books.
By far the most memorable event was the “feast of authors.” We were all situated at tables in a dining hall. Throughout the meal, selected authors sat down at our table and visited with us. Several authors came to our table that night; I remember two vividly. Floyd Skloot, a wonderful poet, novelist and essayist, told us about his memoir, A World of Light. Since that dinner, his daughter Rebecca Skloot has published the bestselling The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Another visitor to our table was Laura Numeroff, author of If You Give a Pig a Pancake among may others sweet children’s books. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my daughter I had met her.
Never once did I think to myself “I wonder if I’ll be here again someday, but instead as an author.” It didn’t even cross my mind, even though I had already begun work on an early novel.
So imagine my delight and surprise when my publicist emailed the other day to say it was official — I am to be one of the guest authors at this year’s PNBA “feast of authors.”
I would be nervous, except I know how to dress in Portland, Oregon. And I also know — these are my people. They love books. I love books. We’ve got the whole world in common. We’ll talk about their bookstores and Fireside Books, and I’ll have to imagine Marlena my publicist at my shoulder, gently reminding me to not just talk shop with my fellow booksellers, but also tell them a bit about my debut novel. Maybe then I can describe how I was struck with the idea for The Snow Child when I was shelving books at Fireside. I can tell them that being a bookseller is the perfect day job for a would-be novelist.
I can’t wait until October!