Sunday, May 8, 2011

Author Talks featuring Kathryn Stockett

For several months now, three very good friends and I have been looking forward to attending a wonderful new Chicago event, hosted by the Chicago Tribune, called "Author Talks." It's a live Q&A with some interesting visiting writers -- Joyce Carol Oates and Alexander McCall Smith were recent guests -- and it gives those of us in the audience a chance to get an inside scoop on their books and their writing lives.

On Friday, May 6th, my friends (Sarah, Karen and Joyce) and I hopped a train and headed into the city to see the fabulous Kathryn Stockett, who wrote one of my favorite modern novels, the #1 New York Times bestseller The Help.

What a FANTASTIC experience! We decided to make an afternoon/evening out of it, so we left at 2pm and got downtown an hour or so later, in time to enjoy celebratory cocktails at the Elephant & Castle pub.

Next up, a delicious dinner at the Italian Village -- where, between the four of us, we had mostaccioli, whitefish, chicken marsala and seafood ravioli -- SO good!

Then, across the street to the Chase Auditorium at 7pm for Kathryn's interview and author reception, which was terrific from start to finish. Included with our tickets were brand new trade paperback editions of the novel, plus cute black bags, pens and a copy of Chicago Home and Garden magazine. (See photo at top of blog.)

Chicago Tribune literary editor, Elizabeth Taylor, hosted the interview beautifully. And Kathryn was so charming, funny and smart that it was a pleasure to be in the audience just to hear her tell about her years growing up in Mississippi, her struggle to write the novel and then find a good agent for it (she says she got about 60 agent rejections before she found representation ;) and to learn some details and background about the movie, based on the book, that's coming out this August. Can't wait to see it...

We were an appreciative crowd and, in looking around the room, I couldn't spot an empty seat. Elizabeth later told us that the event sold out in just few days. I'm not at all surprised -- it was exceptionally well organized and very enjoyable -- and everyone I chatted with during the evening said the same. I'm looking forward to going to more Author Talks and other Tribnation events in the near future.

After the Q&A ended, the reception and booksigning began. There were plenty of refreshments available, not that we were hungry after our big dinner (this did not, however, stop us from sampling the veggie quesadillas, chicken satays and mini-pastries...yum!), but we did manage to finish snacking before reaching the place where Kathryn was signing books. Again, she was so warm and approachable, it was lovely to get to chat with her personally for a few minutes and have our photo taken with her.

Knowing we had an hour and a half before our train was set to depart, we made one final stop -- for coffee and a dessert to share (because, really, we were on a mission to taste test EVERYTHING that night) -- at a very hip place called IPO: New Urban Cuisine. We decided to get an order of the "Chocolate Waffle," which had sides of chocolate mousse, blueberries, fois gras caramel (a new taste sensation for me), cream cheese, chocolate shavings and a few other mystery ingredients, and it was both unusual and delectable. What a perfect way to end the day before heading for home at last and, after midnight, collapsing into bed...stuffed, satisfied, smiling. Many thanks to ALL involved for making it such a delightful event!

A few years ago, Joyce, Karen, Sarah and I went to see Sue Monk Kidd and found it a joyful and inspirational evening as well. Have any of you gone to an author talk that you especially loved? If so, who was the guest writer and what made his/her program memorable to you?

p.s. Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there ;).


Susan McBride said...

Wow! What a lot of fun (and good food!). Wish I didn't live so far so I could have tagged along. Thanks for sharing, Marilyn. Great pics, btw!!!

Maria Geraci said...

I'm so jealous! I loved The Help. Just saw a preview for the movie it at the theater and it looks awesome:)

Edie Ramer said...

Ummm, the dessert description wiped out of my mind everything else that said. Must focus.

Okay, better, now. What a lovely day! I read The Help. I'm shocked that so many agents passed on it. It shows the value of perseverance.

One of my favorite speakers is Sue Grafton. I've heard her speak a few times. She's funny, personable, and is as good at speaking as writing.

Marilyn Brant said...

Susan, Maria and Edie~thank you all! I wish the three of you lived close enough to have been able to join us. Kathryn was delightful, and the desserts...well... ;)

Wishing you the start of a fabulous week!

Pamala Knight said...

Oh my! That looks like so much fun!! I wish I'd known she was coming to town because I loved the book. Looks like you and your friends had a great time.

Pamela Cayne said...

That sounds like an almost perfect weekend--how wonderful! (And thanks for posting pics of drinks and dessert--felt like I was there!)

Robin said...

How wonderful! Thanks for sharing your day with us - and now I'm hungry! :) Special times like that are ones you'll always remember. I hope you had a lovely day yesterday! Hugs!

Marilyn Brant said...

Pamala~I don't get to take any credit for finding out about the event. My friend Karen spotted it online and ordered tickets for us immediately! I'll definitely be looking ahead to what they have coming up, though ;).

Pamela~I wish you *would* have been there!! I'm imagining roping you into splitting another chocolate waffle with me sometime, just so we can figure out all the ingredients, LOL!

Robin~thank you! And I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day, too, with your sweet guys... Here, it was very nice ;). Still can't believe we're into May already, though!

Caryn Caldwell said...

That sounds so amazing! I really enjoyed The Help. Though I have to say, those dessert photos made me hungry!

Marilyn Brant said...

Caryn!! Thank you :-). Yeah, The Help was wonderful...and I get hungry looking at that chocolate waffle, too! Hope you're having a great weekend ;)