Outside of professional conferences, I get to attend very few author or book events. I live in the middle of no where, and to get to even the nearest chain bookstore is nearly an hour drive. But last night, I decided to suck it up and take the long trip down to Chicago to the Angry Robot Books Author Showcase.
I spent two hours on this train, both ways. That’s a really exciting picture, isn’t it? I kept myself entertained though and on the way down to the city, I finished reading Emily Murdoch’s 2013 debut If You Find Me.
The Book Cellar, where the event was located, is an indie bookstore in a really nice area of Chicago. I wandered around a little beforehand, but the place was stuffed — not just full of books but of people. There was a really nice turnout for the event. When I sat down, I kept looking over at a woman sitting on the other side of my row who looked really familiar. But I’m not the kind of person to go wander up to a stranger, so I didn’t say anything to her.
The Showcase itself was about what I can handle in an author reading event: each of the four authors, Adam Christopher (author of Seven Wonders), Chuck Wendig (Mockingbird), Gwenda Bond (Blackwood) and Kim Curran (Shift) each read a small excerpt/teaser from their novels and then answered audience questions. It was enough to give a good taste of what their writing was like without being a lengthy reading session.
Here are Chuck and Gwenda reading and talking about their books. Fun fact about the authors: three out of the four of them had really delightful accents while reading.
Each of the authors was asked to talk about one of their favorite reads in the last year, and Gwenda’s answer involved pointing to the woman in the audience who I thought looked familiar. Turns out, my intuition was right: it was Rae Carson, author of The Girl of Fire and Thorns.
After the reading, which only lasted an hour, I went and picked up two copies of Blackwood. Part of why I’d made the trek down was because Gwenda and I thought it’d be a great opportunity to meet each other. I didn’t get a chance to talk to her prior to the reading, so I made sure to be one of the first up to get books signed. When I told her my name for the signature, she looked up, asked me how to spell it, then signed. There was absolutely no recognition at all. She had no idea who I was. I was trying to figure out a non-awkward way to bypass that, but after she finished signing, it clicked. It was a relief since she and I had made plans for after the event that she knew who I was.
I then went and approached Rae because the last time we met, it had been really briefly and in a dark, crowded room when I was leaving. She had had the same “I think I know her” thing toward me I had had toward her. We made sure to block the walkable area of the bookstore chatting, and then I purchased a nice paperback edition of her book and had it signed too.
When the bookstore cleared out, a nice Mexican dinner and frozen yogurt (!!) were enjoyed by Gwenda, myself, Erica of The Book Cellar, Gwenda’s husband Christopher Rowe (we bonded over Jillian Michaels), and a pair of Gwenda’s former workshop partners. It was worth the long, late train ride back.
I mentioned that I bought two copies of Blackwood, right? And that I got both signed? That’s because I’m giving one of those copies away to a reader who’d like one. You can read about the book and the Strange Chemistry imprint of Angry Robot Books here, as well as here. I’ll draw a winner at the end of the month and this is open to US/Canadian residents only.