Monday, June 25, 2007

BEA Serendipity

John Elder Robison, author of the upcoming memoir
Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's.

Yes, one day (maybe today!) I'll finally finish recounting my adventures at BookExpo. This past Saturday's coverage in the Rocky Mountain News adroitly leaves out the show dates, so the uninitiated would never know it was three weeks ago. If the Rocky can still cover the show, so can I.

On BEA Saturday (that would be June 2), I had arranged to have lunch with Kim Reid, a consulting client and subsequent member of the Denver Literary Ladies Luncheon--and author of the marvelous No Place Safe: A Family Memoir (due in October). But then I ran into Charlottesville (Va.) LLLer Jenny Gardiner, whom I hadn't seen since March, and asked her to come to lunch with us. Well, Jenny had a few others in tow, whom she'd met at the Backspace Writers Conference the day before: Carolyn Burns Bass,
Kim Stagliano and John Robison (Augusten Burroughs's very big brother, as you'll see in the pic on Kim S's blog).

Proof once again that it's a small world indeed, Kim R had hung out with Jenny at the Backspace conf; I'd met Kim S through Miss Snark's blog and we'd corresponded a few times; Jenny and Kim S had met and bonded online through a writers' loop. Carolyn was a Backspace conf sponsor. John had been at the conf too, plus had signed galleys of his debut book, Look Me In the Eye, in the Crown BEA booth earlier that day.

Once assembled, we trooped into the lower level food court, but the lines were ridiculously long, and though we located a table, there weren't enough chairs to be had. So we scattered to various points to buy provisions (Carolyn and I went back upstairs for sushi), then reconvened in a BLISSFULLY QUIET corner of the ground floor atrium.

After a lovely respite of just munching and talking quietly--and complaining about how %@#$! hot it was in the Javits, especially in our greenhouse-like corner--we trooped back upstairs to get copies of Kim R's and John's books. As soon as we got to the Kensington booth, an impromptu line formed of people eager to get a signed ARC from Kim. Below is an enthusiastic fan with her much more subdued daughter (you have to imagine the
mega-preteen sigh and eyerolling); John is adjusting his lanyard in the background.

After that, we went to the Crown booth, where a publicist kindly fetched me an ARC of John's book from a secret stash. As an Aspergian, John may not be great with eye contact (hence his book's title), or have much expression in his face or voice; but let me tell you, he sure knows how to close a sale. While the pub was getting me the ARC, a passerby buttonholed John, and he promptly sat down with her and gave her a spot-on pitch for the book. "Normal" writers should be so articulate and eloquent--and this was without having had any media coaching.

Stay tuned, folks: We're going to be hearing A LOT about Robison's book this fall, and not just because he got a $1 million-plus advance and his kid bro will be promoting it with him. I've read a few pages and it looks like a real winner.


jenny gardiner said...

I can hardly imagine better lunch company than your esteemed companions ;-)
Great seeing you Bella!

Kim Stagliano said...

Oh my gosh we had fun - and I learned SO much! I devoured Kim Reid's book on the train back to CT and then that night. No Safe Place is a fantastic glimpse into her family, Atlanta during the late seventies, teenaged angst and more. She and I are from such different worlds but are the same age. I laughed at so many of her beautifully phrased references to clothes, music and feelings about growing up, startled that we seem so different yet shared so many coming of age stories. GREAT BOOK,

I've also read Look Me In The Eye, with the eye of a mother of three children with autism. John's a born storyteller. And a great guy.

Bella, I love your recap = belated or not!

John Elder Robison said...

I enjoyed meeting you all at BEA, and I'll look forward to next year's event.

You know, I remember the events of No Safe Place from the time I spent at my grandparents, who lived in suburban Atlanta.

I remember the trial so imagine my surprise when she appeared, having written the story.

Carolyn Burns Bass said...

Now isn't this the BEA lunch bunch reunion here on Bella's blog. All we're missing now is Kim and I'm going to nudge her over here.

I've read both John's and Kim's memoirs (and dare I say an advance of Jenny's soon to be pubbed American Title Winner, SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEVER). The buzz you may have heard at BEA surrounding LOOK ME IN THE EYE and NO SAFE PLACE is only a murmur compared to the roar that will erupt when these books get into the hands of readers.

By the way, Bella, isn't that shot of John the one I took with your camera? John was so patient while I kept pointing the dang camera in his face.

Bella Stander said...

Nope; I took that shot.

John Elder Robison said...

You know, I am going to stop allowing small females to stand by me in photographs. This "Big John" stuff is too much.

Next time you want a picture of me, bring a football player with you.

It's not just me that's full sized.

Bella Stander said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bella Stander said...

OK, next time I'll pose by you (I'm 6' tall) & Little Kim can snap the pic.

I also bowed to convention and changed the caption to read "John Elder Robison..." Before it said "Big John Robison..."

--Big Bella Stander

Carleen Brice said...

Hey Bella, I'd like to join the Denver Literary Lunching Ladies. Can I, can I, please???

Anonymous said...

I'm late but here! It was a great time hanging out with all of you, and I'm glad you were part of my impromptu first book signing.

Kim R