Booktopia is a series of literary retreats organized by Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness, host of the podcast Books on the Nightstand. For the past three years, my wife and I have been coming to Vermont in April to attend these retreats, and last year, I attended Booktopia Santa Cruz as well.
I was a featured author at the very first Booktopia for my novel UNEXPECTEDLY, MILO, and last year I was a featured author again in Santa Cruz for MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND.
In addition to Manchester, Vermont, this year’s Booktopias will also take place in Bellingham, Washington and Petokkey, Michigan.
As this most recent Booktopia weekend comes to a close, I am reminded of an email I received a week ago from a reader in California. It was titled “Will we see you in Bellingham?” and it read:
Hi Matthew. Your friends from Santa Cruz would like to know... Will you attend again?
I was flattered by the thought that someone far away was hoping I would be joining them in Washington later this year, but in truth, I wasn’t sure if this person was asking me this question as an author or simply as a lover of books.
Unlike any other literary event that I have attended, Booktopia mixes authors and readers into one big melting pot, and the distinction between who is writing books and who is reading books is rapidly blurred because we are all reading books. Authors and readers alike. As often as I find myself talking about one of my books with a reader, I am just as likely to be engaged in a conversation about another book that I did not write. As honored as I am to speak at Booktopia, I attend these gatherings first as a reader who wants to hear from an author rather than an author who wants to meet readers.
I suspect this is the case with almost all of the Booktopia authors as well. Within a very short time, you find that you are less of an author at a Booktopia event and more of a reader who happens to write from time to time as well.
The answer to my friends in Santa Cruz is probably no. The dates to the next two Booktopia events don’t line up well for me, and travel to Michigan and Washington can be expensive. But I haven’t ruled out either trip yet, simply because even though I am almost certainly not going, to admit that reality would make me too sad.