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Connecting with Authors….

October 2, 2012

by Ellen Weeren

In just the past few days, I have spoken with 4 well known authors. Shaken their hands, asked them questions. Gotten super inspired. And I now have signed books from all of them. Yea!

And just how did I do that, you might wonder. (If you don’t wonder that, stop reading now. 😎  )

Well, I attended a panel discussion at Fall for the Book at George Mason. The discussion was focused on the definition of literary fiction v. genre fiction and if it’s even important to make the distinction between two any longer. The answer was basically that it’s nearly impossible to define literary fiction or appropriately capture its essence. Outstanding writing will be discussed without prompting from scholars and its words will be devoured – no matter what you call it.

My own definition/measuring stick will be that if a college professor picks up The Alligator Purse and discusses it in her classroom or if a book club can’t stop talking about it, then I will consider it Literary Fiction. (She says crossing fingers that one day that will happen.)

These three fantastico authors were at Fall for the Book…

Alma Katsu  – Alma inspired me because she was first published after the age of 50. There’s still hope for me! 😎 And her writing has gripped me – here is the start of her novel The Taker:

“Luke Findley’s breath hangs in the air, nearly a solid thing shaped like a frozen wasp’s nest, wrung of all its oxygen.”

That is some fabulous prose.

Louis Bayard is very simply a tremendous writer and a professor at George Washington Univ.

I also love the opening of The School of Night:

“Against all odds, against my own wishes, this is a love story. And, it began, of all places, at Alonzo Wax’s funeral.”

Now, I am curious as to what is going on.

and then there was Julianna Baggott. The movie rights to her latest novel Pure have already been purchased. She writes across genres and audiences. And, she speaks in poetry. The way she expressed her thoughts was beautiful. I can only imagine the prose in her stories will be scrumptious.

This is what Julianne said on her own blog about the panel discussion. She asked if it was worth her time – she sold fewer than ten books and her child was sick while she was gone. To that I say, “Thank you for coming. When you signed my book, you wrote Best of Luck With Your Writing, Imagine Wildly.” I don’t know if inspiring me was worth missing her sick child. But I was inspired and so were many others.

Mark Athitakis was also on the panel. He is a book critic and manages a guide to DC area readings. You can find that here. I hope one day that he will review my book.

Yes, you are right. That is only three authors. The fourth was one of my absolute faves – John Shors. He wrote the magical historical fiction about the Taj Mahal called  Beneath a Marble Sky. And, if you’ve been following for a while here, you might remember this review. His new book is called Temple of a Thousand Faces and you can preorder it here.

John was kind enough to call our writers group and share his insights on writing. Why did he do that? Because he is awesomesauce – that, and we asked him to.

It is amazing to me just how approachable some authors are. They share a unique understanding of how challenging this writing journey is. And they are eager to see other authors succeed. They want to encourage and enlighten them/us/me.

So, if you are thinking that you really missed out on some great opportunities – have no fear – American University is hosting a visiting writers series and you can get inspiration from some amazing authors. You’ll find the calendar here.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 3, 2012 1:16 am

    I also attended this panel. I was the gal in the back with the camera – a hat I rarely wear these days. This is the second year I helped to photograph Fall for the Book, and I specifically requested this panel to be able to listen to and chat with these authors.
    As a musician, I was fascinated by how much I could relate to what was being said in this panel. I am often torn between trying to find my place in my narrow music genre and trying to break free of it. It has been an extremely supportive community, but it is limiting.
    I could really relate to what was said about Amazon reviews and trying to find the best way to get the word out. I was slightly comforted, yet saddened, to hear that it is not just us musicians who travel many miles only to yield a few sales.
    Having said that, I was also really inspired to keep on writing and performing and creating my art, because it is something I just have to do.

    You might relate to my experience at last year’s event:

    If you are interested, you can listen to my music here:

    Good luck to you!

    • October 3, 2012 7:33 am

      Hey there

      How fun that you stopped by and commented – thanks! I will check out your write up from last year! And your songs! Good luck to you too.

  2. October 2, 2012 7:13 pm

    Ellen, it was so nice to meet you at Fall for the Book. Thanks for the kind words about the Taker, and for the tip on John Shors! I hadn’t heard of his books but now will track them down for sure. Best of luck with your writing.

    • October 3, 2012 7:33 am

      Alma – what a treat to see your comment! You were fantastic! Beneath a Marble Sky is my favorite of his stories – I think you will love it! Ellen

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