I attended a reading by Asheville author and UNC Asheville grad Sarah Addison Allen last night, and it was a wonderful experience. I’m always interested in authors’ approaches to readings — what they decide to speak about, how they read their own words, insights they choose to share — and also in the way a writer’s fan base reflects the writer’s work. In this case, the fans arrived hours in advance, chatted and mingled with one another, and were incredibly thoughtful. One woman even brought a few decorative journals for attendees to write messages to the author in, and at the end of the reading she presented these journals to Sarah as a gift. It was a lovely gesture and one that seemed consistent with the themes of love and friendship prevalent in her novels.
It turns out (not surprisingly) that Sarah Addison Allen is a whimsical woman: she began her reading by taking a picture of the audience with her cell phone, and the rest of the evening proceeded in a similarly casual and fun manner. She was a real hoot, making jokes to lighten the mood even when she was speaking on serious subjects — which she did right from the start. In fact, she opened her reading by explaining how she came to write Lost Lake; specifically, she talked about how she herself got “lost” in early 2011 when she was diagnosed with cancer, and how she has gradually come to be un-lost after a long journey through the wilderness of cancer and chemo. Throughout the evening, she spoke movingly of her personal growth and made several silly allusions to food while describing her writing process (you had to be there — it was really funny!).
After the reading, Sarah stuck around to sign books…and the line was a long one! She was friendly and personable with each of her readers, and she took the time to chat and laugh and connect (however briefly) with each of us. She was even willing to let me take a picture with her! (You’ll have to go to the post on my personal blog to see it.)
I’m so glad I was able to make it to her reading, and I’m looking forward to exploring the literary landscape of Lost Lake sometime soon!