How hard is it to write books?” a young man no older than 12 asked Wally Lamb.
“It’s wicked hard,” said the author. “In fact, it used to come more naturally when I didn’t know so much and wasn’t so interested in process. Whenever I get stuck, I have to go outside near running water – something about the sound and movement of water relaxes me.”
I was attending my first author event, in Madison, CT, hosted by R.J. Julia Booksellers owner Roxanne Coady, who happens to host our new podcast, “Just The Right Book Podcast” (www.bookpodcast.com).
Here’s what it felt like:
A few years ago, I attended a Red Sox game, and everyone around me was as passionate and knowledgeable as I am; they often voiced my thoughts before I could articulate them. I found myself lovingly high-fiving strangers. At the book gathering, I felt I was attending a different sort of game with about 200 Lamb Sox fans – well-read on the author, familiar with his work and tendencies, discussing characters like they were real people. It was a love affair. I laughed and chatted with strangers who shared my enthusiasm for the written word.
A podcast for book lovers can be dangerous. It’s rare you’d find me without a book close at hand. And I love “the hunt” – the search for my next book, for which I get so absorbed as to threaten the joy of finishing my current one. But any medium that gives me ideas for my next read and encourages me to read more and spend less time doing my job (which includes, as luck would have it, marketing this podcast) has its hazards.
While listening to “Just The Right Book Podcast,” I find myself constantly jotting down new titles I want to explore, hearing from authors I’m both familiar and unfamiliar with, and having fun and learning at every moment.
How’s this for variety? From Roxanne’s recommendations alone, I have already read Before the Fall, the perfect fast-paced summer beach read, and The Woman in White, a 157-year-old novel by Wilkie Collins that was serialized in a magazine by his friend Charles Dickens.
Here’s a sample of what you could have picked up (and still can) from the early episodes:
• In Beth Macy’s research for Truevine, the true story of two African-American brothers who were kidnapped and displayed as circus freaks in the Jim Crow South, she entered a restaurant to ask the family questions and was shown a sign on the wall instructing her to “sit down and shut up.”
• Of the 350 million books James Patterson has sold, I am the proud buyer of one, Kiss the Girls. But many of his fans don’t realize that he has also developed a series of children’s books under the name Jimmy Patterson, including Give Please a Chance and Word of Mouse.
• Legendary chef (and author of 28 books) Jacques Pepin once worked at Howard Johnson, is getting a PhD from Columbia, and names cassoulet as his favorite holiday dish.
• Deirdre Bair, author of Al Capone: His Life, Legacy, and Legend, says the gangster was so organized and detail-oriented that his crime operation was taught as a case study at the Harvard Business School, complete with org chart, titles, compensation, killings and more.
• Maria Semple, discussing her latest book, Today Will Be Different, wants to “push her characters to the edge where they are forced to act and do crazy things.” She also notes that it’s “cheating” and “lazy writing” to portray a kid from a grownup’s angle. They have to sound, think and act like a kid.
• In Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, Matthew Dicks creates a five-year-old boy with autism as his narrator.
• Luvvie Ajayi, author of I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual, says she likes her audience to feel like they are having brunch with her, and that she “says the things that they are thinking but do not dare to say.”
The president of our company has told me his goal is to read every book on the planet before he dies. Skeptic that I am, I doubt he’ll make it – especially as authors new and old keep telling great stories. But that’s where “Just The Right Book Podcast” comes in – to inform and delight book lovers everywhere, offer news, perspectives and ideas about what’s out there, and help people experience the joy of losing themselves in a good book. Happy reading – and listening!
Join our list to receive our blogs and news about future episodes.