Armchair BEA: Day 2 Author Interactions

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

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Let’s talk interacting with authors IRL (in real life) or online. This is your opportunity to talk about your favorite author readings that you have attended. Or, you can feature your favorite author fan moment (i.e., an author sent you a tweet or commented on your blog). Maybe you even want to share how your interactions have changed since becoming a blogger or share your own tips that you have learned along the way when interacting with authors as a blogger.

I think the internet is amazing for almost all things - I couldn't do my job as a journalist without it. I've been able to research and discover and meet a community of people (other historical fiction and book bloggers) who would not be part of my world without this incredible invention.


But - I do miss the 90s when I was in my early teens (or even younger) and would write to famous authors using good old-fashioned pen and paper and send it to them with a stamp and in an envelope in care of their publisher.

Don't get me wrong - I love interacting with authors online. It's a thrill to immediately let someone know that their book - the book they spent years working at and worrying about - has moved you and somehow made your world seem a little bigger.

I've talked to Eva Stachniak (author of The Winter Palace and Empress of the Night) over Twitter and welcomed her to Washington, DC at cherry blossom time. I've told Ann Weisgarber (author of The Personal History of Rachel DuPree and The Promise) that I love how her books tell the stories of American pioneers. I've recommended books to Jennie Fields (the author of The Age of Desire). I've read Emma Darwin (author of The Mathematics of Love and A Secret Alchemy) and loved her books so much I went online to learn more about her and discovered that she has an amazing writing blog - This Itch of Writing - and within a few months, I was working with her directly in a one-on-one historical fiction writing class.

I'm lucky enough to live in DC - a short walk away from Politics and Prose, one of the best independent bookstores in the United States. I've met John Boyne there and told him that my favorite memory of my first trip to Paris was buying his book The House of Special Purpose at the now-defunct Village Voice bookshop and devouring the book on the long plane ride home.

I've also put my hometown knowledge to good use. When Susan Elia MacNeal (author of the Maggie Hope WWII mysteries) did a reading at my neighborhood library and afterwards asked me if there was a good place to eat nearby, I ended up directing her to my favorite Mexican restaurant and having dinner with her!

But nothing beats the thrill I got as a teenager to open up the mail and find a handwritten note from the authors who were quite honestly my heroes - Alison Weir - who hand-wrote a three page letter on bright pink paper. Antonia Fraser who typed out a letter on fancy letterhead (and as a girl growing up in Vermont did I love seeing her Kensington, London address!) and Sharon Kay Penman who wrote pages and pages and recommended other books and told me to never stop writing!

Twitter and Facebook and Goodreads are all amazing - but I'm so glad I have those letters! 

13 comments:

Cici said...

I must agree, a handwritten note really takes the cake! What pieces to cherish!

Courtney Reads A Lot said...

Wow! These are amazing interactions with authors! Congrats! Nothing beats a handwritten letter when it comes to talking with authors :D Great post!

Kristen said...

That would be lovely, getting such a fancy letter from an author! That would be something I would cherish. I've saved even small notes from authors when I win swag/books. :)

Trish said...

Wow! I never thought to write a letter to authors in my youth but now I wish that I had--so neat that you received lovely hand-written letters in return. It's a lost art, I think.

52booksorbust said...

I never even considered contacting an author before the age of the internet. I wish i had, a personal letter would be great. The advantage of the internet is that it makes everyone seem so accessible.

ahz1 said...

I remember writing to my favorite author when I was a teen. I wrote to Michael Crichton and even got a very nice reply. I agree, nothing beats that feeling of getting that handwritten note from an author.
AH@badassbookreviews

Tanya @ Moms Small Victories said...

How wonderful and amazing! I love handwritten letters and note cards (besides books, I love buying note cards). The written note shows much more thought and care. Those are amazing interactions, I really have to be less shy meeting authors IRL. I know they are just people, but I put them on pedestals like other people do rock stars.

Historical Fiction Notebook said...

Cici & Courtney - I actually need to find the letters! They went into storage when I left home to go to college. I know they're hanging around somewhere but I haven't seen them in years.

Historical Fiction Notebook said...

Kristen - I save all my "swag" too - I especially like autographed postcards of the book cover. Some of the book covers are beautiful art in their own right and its nice to have them set up on my desk.

Historical Fiction Notebook said...

Hi Trish: Letter-writing is definitely a lost art! I would love to know if publishers still get letters for their authors and send them along.

Historical Fiction Notebook said...

52booksorbust - This was a hard post to write - I love the internet and the fact that I can instantly interact with authors but I think we do lose something with the lack of letters. I hope the post came across as balanced!

Historical Fiction Notebook said...

ahz1 - That is pretty amazing that Michael Crichton sent you a personal reply. He must have been overwhelmed with fan letters - its nice to know that he was a good person and took the time to write back!

Historical Fiction Notebook said...

Hi Tanya @ Small Mom Victories - as someone who would like to be a published author someday, I say keep treating authors like rock stars :) No matter how many author events/book readings I go to, I'm still surprised to see that authors are "real people" just like us!

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