The “Author Feast” at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association conference initially reminded me of that scene in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia book “The Silver Chair” in which the hapless humans stumble on a giant’s cookbook opened to the recipe for “Man”. Who would be feasting on whom? In the event, the evening was a blast. Twenty hardy authors rotated from table to table, in the book world’s version of speed dating: for 15 minutes per table we talked about our books, then a gong sounded, and we moved onto the next.
Luckily we each only had to address six tables of 12 booksellers, or our voices would have given out. Fellow author Blaine Harden, whose book on an extraordinary chapter in North Korean history comes out in the spring, said it was the most grueling author experience he’d had – and this from a longtime foreign correspondent used to traipsing all over Asia and Africa.
I didn’t bring my Gutenberg Bible napkins, more’s the pity. (These choice items are for sale at the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, and are a fabulous addition to any “Gutenberg’s Apprentice” party you may plan.) But I was gratified by how seriously the booksellers tucked into my tale. It helps that I have a gorgeous hardback they all ooh and ahh over. But more than that, the story of the invention of printing is both compelling in its own right, and seemingly irresistable to people deeply steeped in the world of books. It was incredibly heartening to learn that my novel was of tremendous interest to many. One independent bookstore owner, a tall gentleman with flowing white hair and a Stetson, told me afterward that throughout the evening he’d heard about a whole lot of books he wanted to stock on the shelves of his store—but mine was the only one he really wanted to read. A feast of an evening, indeed.