Sherman Alexie is My New Best Friend

Ok, maybe not really. But having just returned from the BookExpo American conference in Los Angeles, with my head still whirling from all the authors, panels, publishers, celebrities, meetings, parties, and whatnot, I can’t help riding the high and telling you all about it.

Thursday night I was lucky enough to attend a party for George Hamilton, of Dynasty (and tanning!) fame, and his soon-to-debut memoir Don’t Mind If I Do. He is as charming in real life as you would imagine, and even more tan (no seriously, he is, words cannot describe). Also putting in appearances were Diahann Carroll and Loni Anderson, who is quite possibly one of the tiniest people in show biz. Philippa Gregory, who shares her publisher with George, was also there, and was fantastic (specifics in Friday). Aside from the amazingness of seeing these people in person, there was a distinctly yummy signature cocktail on offer — champagne and peach nectar — not to mention the largest strawberries in the world covered in dark chocolate. How I love Hollywood!

Friday morning kicked off with an amazing breakfast panel, intro’d by Jon Scieszka, mc’d by Eoin Colfer, and with Three Icons of Literature Sherman Alexie, Judy Blume, and Neil Gaiman. Yes, folks, they were all there. Talk about being starstruck! If I hadn’t already been sitting down, I would have needed to. All were funny (especially Eoin Colfer), the Icons were thought-provoking on top of it, and I think my brain and sides hurt at the end; the former from thinking, the latter from laughing.

Friday afternoon I discovered the perils of walking two miles from the Convention Center to the Central Library in flip-flops, when you’re late for a luncheon. Blisters are involved in said perils; I don’t recommend it. But they were worth it in the end, because it was in honor of Philippa Gregory, who is charming, gracious, jaw-achingly funny, and one of the hardest working historical fiction writers in the business. Her new book about Mary Queen of Scots, The Other Queen, is at the top of the galleys I brought home from LA and will be diving into in the next few days — I’ll let you know how it is!

Friday night I party-hopped from Random House’s bash for, among others, Salman Rushdie (Dumbstruck! Could not say two words! He is my hero!) to the top-secret Hellfire party, which if I told you about I’d have to kill you, and then watched in desperation as the lucky few departed for Prince’s party. Yes, that’s right, the Artist Formerly (and Currently) Known as Prince had a party at his house in Beverly Hills. If I’d thought there was any chance of getting in, I would’ve tagged along, but attendees not only had to have a security check prior to the party, but there were manned gates involved. And probably Dobermans. Since I have a deep and abiding respect for Dobermans, I decided to just pillory all the lucky ones who got to go and get as many details as I could. The fact that I missed hearing Prince perform Crimson and Clover will be one of the few real regrets of my life. Sigh.

Saturday morning started bright and early with a breakfast for some of Random House’s children’s authors, including Polly Horvath and Marjorie Priceman, who are both lovely and so talented. Marjorie read us How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A., the sequel to How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World; if you’ve never started off your day with having a picture book read to you by the author, I highly recommend it.

Saturday afternoon was spent largely running around talking with publishers and authors and other booksellers, until I quite literally could not take any more.

Saturday night was the Little, Brown Young Readers party at the Oviatt Penthouse — an AMAZING piece of LA history and architecture, and how often do you get to attend a party on a roof? If you’re me, never — in honor of Trent Lee Stewart (who was great to see again) and Sherman Alexie, Paul Fleig, Pseudonymous Bosch, Todd Parr and Lisi Harrison. Sherman is too much fun for words, and was very nice to me, mostly because of Sara Zarr I think (thanks, Sara!), and drew me a picture on the back of a coaster that I will be framing and hanging in a place of honor, then pointing out to others until they are sick and tired of being shown it. And then I will sell it on eBay.

No, I won’t — sorry folks, you’ll have to get your own hand-drawn coaster. Maybe when he comes for his next book, Radioactive Love Song (of which I have read the teaser, which was not at all fair because now I have to wait several months to assuage my burning curiosity with an ARC), we will have a big stack of them.

Pseudonymous Bosch and Paul Fleig are also my BFFs — Paul was friendly, sharp, witty, everything you’d expect from the creator of Freaks and Geeks, and also the best dressed man at the party (and possibly the entirety of Los Angeles). Pseudonymous was wearing full cape and mask so that us attendees can’t reveal his identity on our blogs (ahem), but every now and then a hand would emerge to sign a coaster and then you’d get shooed along by a publicist.

Ok, that’s also not true, but I’m really not allowed to say anything much about him other than that I can’t wait for him to visit our store.

After all that, it was back to the Library for a FSG party on behalf of too many authors to name. I couldn’t wait for this one, because the amazing Mary Pearson was there. I’ve been ranting and raving about her book Adoration of Jenna Fox (published! on our shelves! come buy it immediately!) to anyone who will listen and then some that won’t. She is too sweet for words, and just about made me cry talking about her inspiration. I’ve been promised that she’ll stop our way as soon as she can, so cross your fingers that it’s soon!

And that’s all that’s fit to blog — the rest was really meetings, meetings, and more meetings, all of which were great and will probably take me several weeks to mentally digest. Don’t you wish you were a bookseller too?

2 Responses to Sherman Alexie is My New Best Friend

  1. scifialiens says:

    Thanks for this. I couldn’t make it this time, but maybe next year.

  2. MaryP says:

    Jenn, it was SO good to meet you! What a wonderful surprise to find you at the Macmillan party! Yes, fingers crossed that Fall works out!

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