RJ Julia appearance

Last night’s appearance at RJ Julia Booksellers was delightful. A warm and engaging audience, interesting questions, gracious and charming hosts, and an opportunity to speak about my book and the writing process in general, which I simply adore.

And I love that bookstore a great deal. Before publishing my book, I appreciated RJ Julia for its atmosphere, selection and location, but now that I’ve gotten to know the people who work there, I’ve come to realize that they could be selling their books from a Radio Flyer on some street corner and still be fine. It’s not the building or the shelves or even the books that make a great bookstore. It’s the people working there who make all the difference.

Thanks to all who came out and supported me and the bookstore last night.

I also had a chance to tour the behind-the-scenes world of RJ Julia, which is much larger than I could have ever imagined. Offices, lunch rooms, and stockrooms galore, along with the dreaded “Return Hallway,” where unwanted books go to die. As an author, walking past the thankfully small stack of books that were awaiting their death sentences was sad indeed, reminding me of The Island of Misfit Toys. My editor once told me that “even writers like Patterson have returns,” but it’s still a very sad thought and one I like to pretend will never happen to me.

I closed my talk with a few book recommendations, which I’d like to repeat here.

In the children’s book category, my daughter’s favorite book, based upon her chewing patterns and desire to consume the book, is NIGHT-NIGHT LITTLE POOKIE by Sandra Boynton. It’s cute as hell, and listening to my wife say the word Pookie just about breaks my heart every time.

If you prefer nonfiction, I recommend CLOSE TO SHORE, an account of the shark attacks off the coast of New Jersey in the 1920s that went on to inspire Peter Benchley’s JAWS. It may actually be scarier than the fictionalized version of the story because… well… it really happened. Wonderfully written and a great snapshot of the period as well.

In fiction, I recommended BILLY BOYLE by Jim Benn, a local author who works in the same school district as me. This is the first in a series of books about the title character, and his newest book (the fourth in the series) will be out in just a few weeks. They are classic World War II mystery stories, and when I read them, I can’t help but envision the action in black-and-white, Casablanca-like. The historical components of the books are fascinating, and the stories themselves are fast-paced and fun.

And oddly enough, I even recommended a cookbook, though I never actually cook. THE EX-BOYFRIEND’S COOKBOOK, by Thisbe Nissen and Erin Ergenbright, is a collection of recipes assembled from the authors’ many ex-boyfriends. One side of the page describes the boyfriend and the relationship and the other offers a recipe from the former beau. I’ve never actually attempted any of these recipes, but I love reading the author’s interpretation of the guys and the relationships a great deal. The book is fun and witty and exceptionally well designed.

image image image image