Today Lisa Scottoline’s new novel, Don’t Go, came out and she’s started her book tour to support it. In the morning she was on Fox 29 speaking about the novel, and her first book signing was at Barnes & Noble on Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, PA. While I woke up today feeling lousy, I planned on going to the signing for months. It was a beautiful day in the City of Brotherly Love, so I sucked it up and went to the book store.
Like last year, I took the escalators to the third floor where the signings take place. I walked in with 10 minutes to spare and was greeted by a room full of people and limited seating. But I made the most of the situation and stood off in the corner, eagerly awaiting Lisa’s arrival. I also noticed the table displaying the new book and a couple boxes of Hershey’s chocolate bars. Last year Lisa gave out Tastykakes, but this year she had trouble acquiring them, so she opted for another traditional Pennsylvania sweet.
After being introduced, Lisa was met with a warm round of applause. She quickly launched into funny stories about everything from a recent pap smear to her ex-husbands. She had the crowd in stitches the entire time with her honest, unfiltered humor. Then, Lisa started talking about the inspiration for the book and how it all started with a visit to her podiatrist. She explained that while podiatry may not be the most prestigious specialty, overseas, in the middle of a war, “these men are gods.” Lisa wanted to tell the story of those serving at the end of a war and the issues they encounter, as well as what it means to be a man and a father. She described these standalone books as “family stories” featuring crime, and her Rosato & Associates books as crime stories featuring families. Speaking of which, her newest Rosato & Associates novel, Accused, is coming out in October.
After Lisa spoke, she took questions from the audience, including one from me. I asked if she obsessively edits her writing the same way other writers – like myself – do, or if she has someone else handle it. She admitted to editing extensively. According to her, “When you cut out stuff you don’t need it helps the pacing.” She referenced James Patterson as being one of the best authors when it comes to establishing a great pace, and she said “I keep a folder of stuff I’d like to get rid of but can’t bring myself to delete.”
Then Lisa started signing books and meeting with fans. Many of the fans she knew from previous signings, and one fan said meeting Lisa was a dream come true and that her books helped her get through a period in her life when she had to have an operation on her legs. When I got to the front of the line I thanked Lisa for allowing me to interview her a few weeks back, and she complimented me on my Don’t Go book review. I told her that my girlfriend was a little jealous about her referring to me as “sweetie” and including “xoxoxoxo” in our correspondence. Lisa laughed and said, “Well you are a sweetie. Tell your girlfriend we’re keeping it clean.” She ended by offering to support my writing however she can, and I was touched. She also gave me six Hershey’s chocolate bars before I left. As I’ve said before, Lisa’s a genuine and generous person. Buy a copy of Don’t Go, and make sure to go see her if she’s in your area during any of her appearances.
I recently met one of my favorite thriller writers for the second time: Harlan Coben. With more than 50 million books in print and his last five consecutive novels debuting at the top of The New York Times Bestseller list, Coben is one of the most successful and skillful authors. He rose to fame with Tell No One, which was turned into an award-winning foreign film, and Coben is also well known for his popular Myron Bolitar novels. If you enjoy thrillers or mysteries in any capacity, I urge you to pick up one of his books. They’re tremendous.
But back to the book signing. So there I was at Barnes & Noble with my girlfriend, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Harlan Coben. I was telling her about his sense of humor and how he doesn’t read from his books during these events. My goal was to make sure she understood this was not going to be a boring book signing. Having read three of his books prior to going, I had a feeling she would leave with a greater appreciation of the man and his work.
When Harlan was introduced, I cringed as the book seller butchered Myron Bolitar’s name calling the fictional character Byron Molitar. It’s a strange name, no doubt about it. But either she or the person who typed up the sheet she read off of mercilessly destroyed Myron’s name. Who’s to blame? The world may never know.
Upon his arrival, Coben was met with a wave of applause and he shared the good news that Hugh Jackman is set to appear in the film adaptation of his new novel Six Years. Considering the book just came out, I though it was a heck of an accomplishment. Coben went on to say, “Working with Hollywood is like being separated by a barbed-wire fence. I throw the books over and they throw the money over. Then we both run in opposite directions. Until I’m at the movie premiere, I won’t believe it’s real.”
One of the most interesting pieces of information to come out of the evening was Coben’s criteria for what makes a good writer. “You need to have three things: inspiration, perspiration and desperation.” By this he meant, first and foremost a writer needs an idea to write about, following by a strong work ethic. Moreover, Coben feels that writers like himself are fearful of “having to work a real job” if their writing fails. This is where the desperation comes in. “I’m not fit to do anything other than write,” Coben said as fits of laughter echoed through the room.
I had the opportunity to ask Coben a question during the Q&A portion of the event, and he graciously answered. It was about his thoughts on audiobooks, and he went on to tell us about his experience narrating one of his own books. “The producer in the studio told me to slow down and that I didn’t understand the characters. I wrote the characters,” Coben said with a chuckle. He also spent a great deal of time with fans signing books, answering questions, listening to their stories and posing for photos. There’s a reason why I go see Harlan Coben when he’s nearby. Not only is he a great author, he’s a great person. Similar to Lisa Scottoline, he’s genuine. If Coben comes to your neck of the woods, make it a point to attend. You’ll enjoy yourself.
This week marks the 10th anniversary of Dan Brown’s most famous novel, The Da Vinci Code. To celebrate, the book’s publisher is allowing anyone to download the entire e-book for free between March 17-24. This free e-book also contains an excerpt from Brown’s upcoming Robert Langdon novel, Inferno. This is a brilliant way to promote a new book and a golden opportunity to snap up an engaging thriller for free. Take advantage while you can.