Since the Bookclub Bookstore and More has opened here in Westfield, MA back around the end of June this year I have tried to attend as many local author book readings and signings as possible to show my support of the literary arts in western MA and the surrounding area.
This weekend was unprecedented as there were three events beginning on Friday evening that I wanted to attend.
The first was an author event featuring Dan Hayden for his novel The Game Warden, based on his experiences as a game warden in Connecticut. Kelly had purchased the book the Sunday prior to the event and had been reading it and wanted him to sign it for her. We both don't get home until after 5PM and the event began at 5:30PM. I also have to eat on schedule and take my oral diabetes medication at dinner time, so, we had to hurry up and eat dinner before hurrying downtown. We were about an hour late but he graciously welcomed us and continued his talk until about ten past seven. He had some wonderful stories to relate about hunters, fishermen and use of the Connecticut River and posted No Hunting land by people who disregard the rules. After his talk and the question and answer session he happily signed Kelly's book. The most intriguing aspect of his presentation was when he pulled out the computer printout manuscript of his forthcoming second book in the Game Warden series all marked up and stickered with Post-it notes as he's gone through doing various edits (he claims to have read his own work 26 times through already, and I don't doubt that he has!) The other thing that caught my attention was his reaching into his messenger bag and pulling out a vintage copy of a Little Golden Book, Smokey The Bear, which is the book that got him thinking about becoming a game warden all those years ago when the forest ranger rescued Smokey. We'll definitely be attending his second book signing when his new book is published and available in the future!
On Saturday I packed up four books in my backpack, and two additional books to gift to the author I went downtown to see at eleven in the morning. I had met Gerald McFarland at the READLocal author book signing event at the Agawam Public Library at the end of June. I bought his book, A Scattered People at that event and he'd signed it for me at that time. I'd gone online to find copies of The Counterfeit Man, a true crime novel set in the late 1800's, and Inside Greenwich Village, a history of that area of New York City. Last Wednesday afternoon while poking around int he bookstore I picked p copies of his fiction novels The Brujo's Way and What The Owl Saw. These novels are set in old Santa Fe. It was wonderful to walk into the bookstore and be so warmly greated by this wonderful author, who then introduced me to his charming wife Dorothy and their maid who was very friendly and chatted with me while I was waiting for Gerald to be free to sign my books after his readings, book discussion, and the question and answer session. Gerald has already bought two of my books, and I gifted him two more. He's also told me he will be at my book talk and signing on October 8th to show his support of my writing. Listening to this intelligent man speak was amazing. He brought history to life through the westward journeys of his ancestors, ordinary folk who lived in extraordinary times as the country burgeoned with population increases and expansions. He downplayed the connections to John Brown, the abolitionist, to concentrate on the ordinary people in his family tree and their struggles hardships as they journeyed from Massachusetts and Connecticut to California from the 1600's to the 1800's. I'm looking forward to seeing him again next month!
This morning I decked out in a touch of Manhattan swag to attend the second booking signing I've gone to for author Melissa Volker who was celebrating the launch of her new collection of vignettes, Still Life, a collection of echoes. I'd first met Melissa on July 16th at the bookstore when I attended her book reading/discussion and signing for her novel Delilah of Sunhats and Swans. Melissa is a vibrant speaker (she was an actress at one time) who draws the listener into the world she has created in her books. Her use of words and language evoke images and emotions that can be quite lyrical and haunting. She happily greeted her fan following and recognized me from the July author event. I truly enjoy listening to her, reading her stories, and hope she has a third book out in the near future! It was a fun event but unfortunately I couldn't stay due to other things going on today.
I think there are a couple more events I want to try to attend before my own author event there on October 8th. I learn something new every time I go, and have met some interesting people atr the same time.
I strongly encourage people to read local and support local authors. The big names who are already established have the power of their publisher and huge fan base behind them and tend to dwarf the self published and independent authors who work just as hard and have voices that deserve to be heard as well. Some of us choose to remain local and low key for various personal reasons.
If there is a local author event in your town please go. You just may find a book that will sweep you away into another world, an interesting person who just may live in your own community, and a brief respite from the ordinary.
Let your imagination soar- Read Local!