Saturday, June 25, 2011

Three Components of a Wonderful Book Event: Lea Wait, Thank You!

Of course, the "capacity crowd" that filled all the seats in our new "reading room" added to the great fun we had today during Maine author Lea Wait's visit. With copies of all five of the "antique prints mysteries" that Wait's written -- lots of copies of her most recent, Shadows of a Down East Summer -- Dave and I were both very busy introducing guests to these lovely traditional mysteries, as well as to each other.

But the three components that made the event especially interesting came from Lea Wait's preparation and contributions. Here they are:
1. She arrived with intriguing stories about her path into writing, working her way from her New Jersey and Maine connections to her career writing for a giant of industry to her adoptions of four daughters from four Asian nations -- all this done as a single parent! And I especially enjoyed hearing how she analyzed the mystery field before entering it, calculating how the books were constructed in order to figure out, for instance, how many suspected candidates there could be for the role of murderer.
2. She brought samples of Winslow Homer's work, borrowed from her own antique print business, so that people had a chance to learn something new and stretch their interests. Those who wished could even take home a list of the artist's wood engravings from 1857 through 1875.
3. She knew exactly how much to tell of the plot and characters of the newest mystery, whetting everyone's appetite for the story and for its predecessors (and, we all anticipate, successors!).
In fact, I was so caught up in listening and then in helping books connect with their new owners that I nearly forgot to snap a photo -- and this one doesn't do Lea justice, because she has a lovely smile and animated expression to light up the room for listeners, but you can see that at the moment captured here, she was totally focused on conversing with a new fan of her work (while also signing a book). She really tuned in on readers, and that's a fourth -- and wonderful -- component of today's very enjoyable event.

Thank you, Lea, for coming all the way from Maine to meet Vermont readers. I'm going to pick up some of your middle grade historical novels this summer, to sample more of your range of storytelling and your portraits of Maine, historical and current.

For title lists, and more about the author, check out

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