Pages

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chris Cleave

I was at Vroman's last night, obviously. I might not have gone had my brother not asked me to get a book signed for him. He likes this author, Chris Cleave. I hadn't heard of Cleave but I like my brother and plan B involved doing nothing, so I went.

Chris has two books out right now: Little Bee and Incendiary. He read from the latter and it sounds riveting. I haven't read his books (yet) so I can't recommend them, but the woman next to me in the signing line afterward told me that "Little Bee" was the only book everyone in her book club liked.

Cleave drew a good crowd, but not so huge that he couldn't take a moment to chat with everyone who had a book signed. I swore to myself I wasn't going to tell him I'm a writer. With two books published and a third one almost finished, what's he going to say to every wannabe writer he meets? "Good for you, that's very nice, good luck in everything you do"?

It slipped out, and while I was ruing my blabbermouth he asked me what stage I'd reached with my book. I murmured "uh, finished, working on synopsis, it's very hard, blah blah." He gave me suggestions for how to approach the synopsis and was so kind and encouraging (as opposed to condescending) that by the time I headed for the cash register I had forgotten I was supposed to be kicking myself.

I learned a couple of things: attending such events might be a good use of my time at this stage of my career, and being a nice guy sells books.

Because I hadn't planned to buy one for myself, but I did.

24 comments:

Susan Campisi said...

I can't wait to attend your reading at Vroman's, Petrea. Imagine that turnout!

USelaine said...

Isn't it lovely, and instructive to all of us, to encounter unexpected grace? Thank you for sharing that moment.

Leif Hagen said...

Fun to hear the author present his book! Especially if you were enjoying a cup of java along with it!

Kate said...

Thanks for the recommendation; I'll put it on my reading list, and I hope that soon I'll be able to put yours on mine also!

Margaret said...

Nice people deserve to have their books read. I'm going to go out and buy Little Bee, which I have heard is terrific anyway.

PS: I can't wait to attend your reading either. And I will be buying your book for all my friends. Every birthday: your book. Christmas: your book. Groundhog day: your book.

Petrea said...

Ha! I'll remind you all, when I have something printed and bound, to buy it. In the meantime, it's my pleasure to promote nice authors when I come across them, especially if they're good. Speaking of which, Margaret is closer to having a printed, bound book than I am and I'm poised to buy several copies for friends and family.

The jacket copy of "Little Bee" is bold enough to refuse to tell you anything about the story, except to say that when you read it, please don't tell anyone else what it's about because you don't want to give it away.

Elaine, you got it right. I had had a long day, went only as a favor and ended up getting so much out of it. "Grace" is the word.

No java, though, Leif. The reading area is actually within the bookstore, so no drinks allowed.

Lori Webster said...

I like what Susan C. said....I can't wait to see you at a book signing, but preferably at my store!

Very nice post, Petrea. Glad he was a nice guy.

Becky said...

I just finished Little Bee on Tuesday! I had no idea the author was coming to Vromans - I might have shown up.

Since the books asks for you not to give it away - I won't. But I will say that I had mixed feelings about it.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I think most artist are generous with their knowledge. It's like tipping: when you find out a movie star is a cheap tipper. That kind of thing gets around. Besides, I'm going to guess that most writers are teachers.

Cafe Observer said...

Lemme remind you then, P: you should bee kicking yourself!!

pasadenapio said...

I must confess I've not been to a reading at Vroman's. I would definitely come to yours!

I have taken a break from book-shopping by sitting in one of the chairs in that area. Perhaps someday when I need a break a reading will be taking place at the same time.

J.J. in L.A. said...

I like nice guys. You'll have to tell us if you like the book. I'm always looking for new authors to read.

Jack said...

"Being a nice guy sells books" is a very high compliment.

altadenahiker said...

Aw. or Ah. With all the big bad stories in the news today, this was a nice warm one. And written by a gentle sister.

Petrea said...

I can sign books at Vroman's as well as Webster's, Lori!

Becky, what I love is that you have mixed feelings about the book but that you'd have considered showing up to meet the author. That's interesting.

PA, I have found many artists to be generous. :)

Wow, many thanks, Cafe.

PIO, go to a reading/signing when it's a local author and you can do it on company time!

Will do, J.J.

Jack, it's meant that way.

Merci, Hiker.

TheChieftess said...

Little Bee was a very good book...I'm sure this one is too!!! He's a good one to get tips from !!!

Bellis said...

You never mentioned that he's an English journalist! That explains why he's so nice. No, I shouldn't be biased. I have met several very nice American writers at Vromans. Michael Crichton gave me his full attention for several minutes and my legs turned to jelly (he was very handsome, and Bill Clinton was absolutely charming and friendly.

I read that the book you bought is about terrorism in London, and was published on the day of all the London suicide bombings - wonder if the timing helped or hindered his sales?

Can't wait to meet you at your very own book signing!

Petrea said...

Chieftess, don't give it away, but maybe toss us an adjective? Scary? Tender? Engrossing? Romantic? Frivolous? Hard-core? Bittersweet? Whaddaya got?

Bellis, the story of "Incendiary's" publication is a bit amazing. It's about a woman grieving her losses in a London Al Quaeda attack. Cleave wrote it after 911 but before the 7/7/05 London transport attacks. Prescient. But here's the strange coincidence: its British publication date was 7/7/05.

Of course it was removed from stores immediately. It was recently re-released in Britain and did well, so it is now being released in the US. It's actually Cleave's first novel but it's his second one to be released in the States.

TheChieftess said...

Intriguing...

Well written...

Timely...

A little bit scary...

Sad...

Louis la Vache said...

«Louis» applauds you for buying the book. He finds himself resistant to the Age of Kindle.

Petrea said...

Thank you, Chieftess, an excellent review without giving anything away.

Louis, I don't mind Kindle, I understand its usefulness. What's important is buying the book (which you can do on a Kindle) so the author gets his or her cut. Writers put in thousands of hours to create a book and they're not even sure they'll get published. When that happens, I want to make sure they get paid.

Tash said...

What a nice story. It's a delight to meet people like Mr. Cleave. I looked up and liked his book covers. I'm one of those people that do judge a book by its cover (at least of authors whose work I do not know).

TheChieftess said...

Kindles are good for traveling...rather than packing a book or two or three, the lightweight kindle type pad is ideal!!!

Petrea said...

It's interesting how book covers work, Tash. They tell us a lot about a book, and they're designed very carefully to attract the target market. Think of sci-fi covers, fantasy, mystery, romance, chick-lit--they all have a "look." I like the covers of Cleave's books, too.

Travel is an excellent reason to have a Kindle, Chieftess. I would love to have that reason!