Sunday was the West Hollywood Book Fair. Mr. Jet Lag over here was glad the panel discussion, which had originally been set for 1 pm, was changed to 3. I tried to get over there early, but it just wasn’t happening. That means I missed Gary Phillips moderating a politics discussion with Robert Sheer and Kevin Roderick. I was very sad about that.
I was on a panel with Peter Balaskas, Natasha Bauman and Selden Edwards, moderated by Amy Wallen. The topic was First Time Novelists, and it just so happened that all four novels were historical fiction. Amy did a great job moderating, I loved Peter and Natasha’s readings, but the story I want to tell concerns Mr. Edwards.
Each of us read for five minutes from our novels until Selden’s turn came. He was the last to go, and he opted to give a small talk, instead. He spoke of the fact that he had written his novel in the 70′s, hadn’t found a publisher, resurrected it every four or five years, and finally, with rewrites aplenty, found a home. He had then written to two authors for blurbs, Richard Ford and Pat Conroy. Pat Conroy’s blurb was the one Selden focused on, and he read it to our audience. I wasn’t sure exactly what to say about that, but when my turn came around again, I inserted the fact that I, also, had a blurb by Pat Conroy, not as a competitive gesture, but because I was surprised. I had been told, in December of ’07, that they wanted to get a quote from Pat, but that he hadn’t given one in 12 years, working on his new novel, that he just really couldn’t do it, as friends had asked for quotes and they would be mad. But my editor knows him, and she asked him to just read the first 20 pages. I told this story, along with the fact that a week later we had a blurb. I then looked at the crowd sadly, and said, “They lied to me. He actually had given a quote in the last 12 years.” At which, Selden said, “They didn’t lie to you. When I spoke to Pat, he said he had just given a quote to a Civil War novel, so he could give one to me!” We all laughed.
I really enjoyed the panel discussion, and the signing at the Book Soup booth afterwards (in spite of Robert Wagner hogging all the attention, signing also at the Book Soup booth a few feet away from me). I also got to see Harley Jane Kozak, who starred in two of my movies. She has her third detective novel out, DEAD EX, and I look forward to reading it.