By Elizabeth Hester, Alabama
As I’ve let ALA Annual 2013 wash over me and settled down to reflect a bit, I’ve decided that one of the most exciting things I participated in was working the Live! Stage on Sunday, June 30. My job? Introducing an impressive line-up of authors who all made writing look pretty cushy and easy – which I know it is not! I would compare it to watching the Olympics – those gymnasts, swimmers, and curlers make us all want to get up and try the sport in our living rooms! It’s not as easy as it looks whether its gymnastics or penning a novel.
It was a dizzying job – as soon as I was introduced to the author, I chatted with them a few minutes and then had to get ready to introduce them. With 11 authors to introduce, I barely was able to listen to them read their passages and hear a bit of q and a before it was time for the next one to step up to the Live! Stage and be introduced.
Here is a bit about three of the authors and books I introduced. Although I enjoyed all of the authors and am amazed at their skills and can’t wait to read each of their books (which are being mailed to me!) these three are the ones I felt a special connection to:
First up on the stage was Julia Sweeney, author of If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother. The former Saturday Night Live star spoke about what it’s been like to raise an adoptive daughter. An especially funny anecdote was when she shared what it was like to tell her daughter about her first tooth fairy visit. She told her that she should put the tooth under her pillow and in the middle of the night, the fairy would visit. She went on to say the teeny tiny fairy would come in the middle of the night and fly in to take the tooth. Her daughter, Mulan, asks, “Like a Wasp?” I can’t wait to read more about what life has been like raising a daughter for this comedienne.
Author Mary Alice Monroe spoke about her role as a naturalist and how she has incorporated animals like turtles and dolphins into many of her novels. She read from her newest novel The Summer Girls which highlights three granddaughters’ trips back to the summer home of their grandmother for a special last hurrah together.
I just finished The Summer Girls and it’s easy to see why many of Monroe’s novels are chosen as book club reads. This one was a fast-paced story of the trials and tribulations of adulthood. Three sisters try to re-gain a closeness of place and sisterhood at the request of their grandmother. Who can resist a summer read set on a southern coast? You’ll want to pass this book on to friends! As a bonus, Mary Alice Monroe was an absolutely lovely person and has gained a new fan in this reader.
This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park is the tale of a Korean woman’s ‘the one that got away’ story. The day before her marriage she is asked out by a man she meets on the street after stepping out of a beauty salon as Samuel Park tells it. Park tells the audience that the book is partially autobiographical and that the same thing happened to his mother. As a child his mother used to tell the what-if story of the man she almost went to lunch with and how his mother virtually ended up being a maid for her new family at the end of his talk Park lightly mentions how his own father embraces the story and how somehow his parents’ marriage has survived.
I’ve just started This Burns My Heart and can tell I won’t be disappointed by this romantic tale of what could have been.
Getting each of the authors’ books signed and mailed to me was just one of the perks of this volunteer job. Another was meeting these incredible authors and hearing their inspiration for writing. Each one will be playing in my mind for a while. So, get involved and volunteer for ALA and AASL. You never know what you’ll take away from the experience.
The complete list of authors: Sunday, June 30 (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.) – Julia Sweeney, Peter Robertson, Sara Paretsky, Samuel Park, Keith Koeneman, Mary Alice Monroe, Jean Thompson, Ellen Hopkins, René Saldaña, Jr., Jonathan Maberry, Shannon Messenger