Although he lives in New York City now, author David Ebershoff grew up in Pasadena, California, and every one of his novels has some connection to his hometown. Even his most recent book, The 19th Wife, which is primarily set in southern Utah, started out there; a critical character enters the story via a scene in the Pasadena Public Library.
The 19th Wife is just out in paperback, and the author is making an old-fashioned book tour to promote it – and at the same time, the book has been making a virtual tour on the book blogs. TLC Book Tours, the blog-tour organizer, sought out book bloggers in or near the cities that the real-life tour would visit to try to tie it all together.
On Monday night, June 22, David Ebershoff came home to his local independent bookstore, the venerable Vroman’s, to read from and talk about The 19th Wife. Pasadena is close enough to my home and work that I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to see him, and from what I could see, the turnout was quite respectable, especially for a Monday night. The crowd was a mix of ages, more women than men, and the author’s parents were there too. I was sitting a few rows behind them, with Lisa from Books on the Brain, Sheri of A Novel Menagerie, and our friend Amy of My Friend Amy.
Before I went up to the events area of the bookstore, I stopped in at the coffee bar to grab a snack, and saw someone who looked familiar at one of the tables. In fact, I suspected that he was the person I was at Vroman’s to see…and I was right. I had the chance to eavesdrop on part of an informal interview that David was giving to a younger writer. (I’ve met him, he’s signed books for me – we’re on a first-name basis now.) I didn’t want to be obvious, though, so I didn’t take notes and I really can’t remember much of what they said – but I did remember to tell my book-blogging friends that I’d witnessed it!
Being part of the blog tour meant that I already knew a bit about how the book came together, but it was interesting to hear David explain and provide background for the passages he chose to read. He’s a good reader, too. After the reading, he answered questions about The 19th Wife and his research for it, his writing process (someone had to ask that, of course), and what he’s writing now (he told us just a little bit about that – he’s trying to figure out the Pasadena angle to this novel). I had brought the hardcover copy of The 19th Wife that I reviewed with me, hoping that the store didn’t have a strict policy that only books purchased at the time could be signed (they don’t – thanks,Vroman’s!), but while I waited for my turn, I grabbed a copy of David’s previous novel, Pasadena, as well – how could I not?
David was very friendly and took a few minutes to chat with each person as he signed their books. I introduced myself as one of the tour bloggers. He asked me about where I lived, where I worked, and what I did for a living – and then looked at me and asked “How do you find time to blog?” (But we both already knew the answer – I just can’t help myself.) He took a minute away from the signing table so Lisa could snap a photo of him with Amy and me. I hope none of the people behind us in line minded too much that we were taking up extra time, but bloggers have to document! Lisa invited David to join us in the coffee bar after the signing, but he couldn’t make it, so we don’t have quite as good a meeting story as Trish from Hey Lady! does. But even without him, we had a great time talking about all sorts of bookish and bloggy things.
(L-R) Lisa, Sheri, me, Amy – thanks to Lisa’s brother Bill for taking the photo!
This was my first visit to Vroman’s – but it won’t be my last! It was also my first time at an author event like this, but I certainly hope there will be more of them in my future. And it was my first time meeting Sheri, who hadn’t been able to make it to the Festival of Books in April – and yes, she’s just like she is on her blog! It was not my first time meeting Lisa and Amy, and it was great seeing them again. Attending book events with book bloggers just makes them even more fun.