After a month to catch my breath, I was back on the road last week. My first stop was Denver, a place I’d never been and wish I could have stayed a bit longer. But at least I didn’t over pack: I took the Garanimals approach this time, which is why every outfit below is some version of black and white.
I started off at the venerable Tattered Cover for an event with local author Mona Awad. We had drinks beforehand with another writer from Mona’s PhD program, Emily Culliton, who just sold a book to Knopf—in hearing her talk about it, I realized I’d read the deal announcement in Publisher’s Lunch and thought “Oh! I can’t wait to read that one!” The writerly world keeps getting smaller in the most wonderful way.
Mona’s debut came out on the same day as mine. Her Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl is a searing portrait of one woman’s struggle with body issues as she comes of age. It is utterly relatable to any woman who has wrestled with body image (so, any woman) and is by turns hilarious and heart-breaking. It was a delight to get to know Mona and we had a lively discussion onstage. There was a memorable moment during the Q & A where the smartly dressed middle-aged man who’d wandered over from the science section to join us a few minutes into the conversation asked us why men might want to read our books, as they seemed very much geared towards women. It was a cathartic moment: being asked (politely and earnestly) this question that seems so implicit for the female writer. I told him that—through no personal fault of his own—it’s often assumed that men won’t relate with women’s stories, but that women are taught from the beginning to empathize and relate with men’s stories. I told him that reading stories by and about women was a good way to understand the women he cared about (he had a wife, he told us, and daughters) and that this was the whole point of fiction really, beyond its value as entertainment, to build empathy. Mona also pointed out that there’s plenty in both books that is universal: friendship, coming of age, feeling uncomfortable in your skin (and of course body image is not simply a female issue, I point you to Isaac Fitzgerald’s excellent essay on Buzzfeed). We must have convinced him, he bought copies of both books.
Next up was Chicago for a trip to BEA with my colleagues and an event with the fabulous writing duo Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke. We had dinner before our reading and though it was the first time I’d met them, I felt like we’d all known each other for years. The two have been best friends for over thirty years and, in addition to being co-authors of three delightful novels (The Year We Turned Forty is their latest), run a fantastic blog and are big supporters of their fellow authors.
We read at The Book Cellar, a gorgeous local indie that gives you free wine when you read there. Needless to say, I’ll be back any time they’ll have me.
Earlier in the day marketing guru and pal Penny Sansevieri had taught me how to use Facebook Live and Liz and Lisa made much use of this both that evening and the next day when we got to see our esteemed publisher, Judith Curr and blockbuster author Jennifer Weiner, who was on hand to promote her new children’s book, The Littlest Bigfoot.
I also got to spend some time with my PR squad from Booksparks, who have been the wind beneath my wings throughout these last few months.
Next Up: The Great Northwest Author Tour with Girl Friday Productions and McMenamins. I’m thrilled to be helping launch this new reading series which will take Jamie Ford (internationally bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and Songs of Willow Frost) and me to three different McMenamins properties. At each location, we’ll be doing a free evening event at 6pm, followed by a ticketed breakfast event the following morning at 9am—the latter includes breakfast and a signed copy of a book by each author. Hope to see you there!