A Literary Meet & Greet

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Go for the University of Louisville basketball sex scandal and the latest from renowned historical novelist James Alexander Thom.

Stay for the Bicentennial biographies of Indiana’s greatest history-makers, the collection of 15 mysteries, the Festival of Trees (50 of them, each distinctively decorated) and the free concert by the fabulous new Circle City Chamber Choir, who’ll do free gift-wrapping to boot.

The Indiana Historical Society’s 13th annual Holiday Author Fair, set for this Saturday (Dec. 5th) from noon to 4 p.m. offers diversions for heavy readers, light readers and serious to casual shoppers alike. It’s also a free-admission day for exhibits at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center (450 W. Ohio St).

Authors enjoy chatting with their readers during book signings. Placing a sticky note with the book recipient's name, as it should be spelled, is super helpful and time-saving. -  - COURTESY: THE INDIANA HISTORICAL SOCIETY
  • Courtesy: The Indiana Historical Society
  • Authors enjoy chatting with their readers during book signings. Placing a sticky note with the book recipient's name, as it should be spelled, is super helpful and time-saving.

But about those books... More than 70 authors and coauthors will be on hand at the state’s largest literary meet and greet. It's enough to make just about anyone a bibliophile for a day.

Even if Katina Powell doesn’t show up.

An invitation has been extended to Powell, the woman who tells us in her best-seller Breaking Cardinal Rules that she supplied strippers and prostitutes to Louisville basketball recruits and coaches. No response as of early this week, says Becke Bolinger, manager of national retail sales for the Indiana Historical Society. But her coauthor, the as-told-to guy, Indy writer and former newspaperman Dick Cady, will be there to take your best shots.

“We want the publicity, but we don’t want to distract from these other amazing people,” Bolinger says. “We haven’t really pushed it (with Powell), because this event is selling itself.”

Which brings us to the first of several strategic tips for visitors who may not know what they’re getting into, and should give thanks for that.

The 13th annual Holiday Author Fair at the Indiana Historical Society celebrates local and national writers while creating a convenient marketplace for book-loving gift givers. -  - COURTESY: THE INDIANA HISTORICAL SOCIETY
  • Courtesy: The Indiana Historical Society
  • The 13th annual Holiday Author Fair at the Indiana Historical Society celebrates local and national writers while creating a convenient marketplace for book-loving gift givers.

1. Don’t let the marquee attractions be your first and last stops. In sports alone, those curious about Powell could find riveting reads on the Indianapolis 500, coaching legend John Wooden and, of course, Indiana University hoops and Hoosier Hysteria.

2. Look outside your interest area. “Some of the best books being written, for anyone, are in the young adult genre,” Bolinger says. “Some fiction readers would be horrified at that, but experience will change their minds.”

3. Authors want to chat with their readers, but try not to monopolize too much of their time when there’s a line snaking behind you. “We get to be pretty good at judging how much conversation we can engage in,” says Helen Frost, whose lengthy oeuvre includes the new book Sweep up the Sun, a lyric poem accompanied with photographs by Rick Lieber. “At a book singing, we expect to chat.”

4. Expect authors to expect you to visit them. Some might be standoffish or just plain shy, but they all know they’ve got to be booksellers. Besides, you’re their friend. “Authoring is kind of solitary,” says James Thom, the Bloomington-based creator of Fire in the Water, a novel drawn from the loss of 1,800 soldiers’ lives in a Civil War steamboat disaster. “This brings an opportunity to get some feedback. I get to know how my other books have affected people. It makes me feel good.”

5. Go ahead and write your desired inscription on a Post-it note, though it can cost you some intimacy. “Post-its can be very helpful,especially with unusual spellings of names,” Bolinger says. “We always have a few books with incorrect spellings at the end of the day, and we have to eat them.”

6. If you’re associated with a school, library or other likely user, scout out the most affable of the authors as possible speakers. Some make part of their living doing that sort of thing. Some don’t wanna make any money, folks; they just love to sell books. You need to buy some. (Be sure to bring a business card or note with your school or organization’s contact information on it if you intend to ask an author their availability (and perhaps rates)for speaking engagements.

7. Remember to think of your own wish list after you’ve scored good reads for family and friends. Certainly you should reward yourself with a personalized present of your own.

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