As promised in yesterday’s cliffhanger, today we’re talking about The One Where Amb Met Boys Who Actually Write For A Living.
*sigh* Trust me to make meeting a couple of award-winning authors sound like a sitcom episode.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way, you guys. I had plans for this post. Big, literary ones. As we were driving out to Uxbridge on Friday night, I was already imagining how thought provoking my recap would be, when I posted it on the blog. I would listen intently to Joseph Boyden and bring you a fresh, new perspective on his work. We’d talk about the challenges that come with trying to write in the voice of a character so far removed from your personal experience, and the impact you can have on your readers when you get it right. We’d talk about ancient cultures and conflicting belief systems and the idea that change always, always comes at a cost.
Instead, we arrived, and my plans all went out the window. Because of a bag of chips.
The Uxbridge Music Hall is a fantastic venue, and if you ever have the opportunity to go to an event being held there, you should do so, immediately. (You
can come visit me on your way home). The building is warm, full of personality and gorgeous wood paneling, and it has great acoustics. And of course I didn’t notice any of that at first, because all I could see was the chocolate and peanut butter. Yes, there were snacks, and yes, we all got very excited about them. Here’s a hostessing tip, Wonderfuls: if you have close to 300 people coming to an event and you offer them free snacks, no one will mind if they have to sit up on the second floor away from the main stage.
Luckily, we were able to have our peanut butter and eat it, too, because we had arrived early enough to get great seats with prime views of both the stage and the snack tables. We were very excited about this, naturally, and engaged in a rather lively debate of the merits of starting our evening with Reeses Pieces or potato chips, when someone walked up the aisle beside me and tossed my friend Jen a bag of chips. Which someone? Oh, I’m so glad you asked. Picture Hugh Grant’s slightly older, slightly scruffier, brother. Now picture that he grew up in Newfoundland, and is maybe one of the funniest people you’ve ever met in real life. This, my friends, is Michael Winter.
Michael has a new book out as well, “Minister Without Portfolio” and he and Joseph Boyden were doing a cross country book tour together. They’ve known each other for years, and respect each others work immensely … and Friday was the last night of the tour, so they were respecting each other with a glass of wine in each hand. And by “respecting” I mean “making fun of and telling embarrassing stories about”, of course. They were hilarious and heartfelt, and by the time they had finished their readings I loved both of them in general, and Michael in particular.
I had been (only sort of) teasing Jen that she should get Michael to autograph her chip bag; we settled on buying his book, instead. While we were waiting in line to see Joseph, Michael was working the room, wine in hand:
Michael: Hello ladies, can I sign that for you?
me: Yes, please – and I’ve got it all planned out for you, too.
Michael *eyebrow raised* Well, if you have a plan –
me: I do, and it’s brilliant. We’d like you to write “with love and chips to all three of you”, please.
Michael: Love – of course. Chips – right, because your friend and I had a little moment there, earlier. I’m an excellent provider, you know. To all three of you – absolutely not. Where’s your copy of my book? Your plan should account for buying at least six copies of my book. There’s a flaw in the plan!
me: The plan is flawless. We’re sharing the book.
Michael: Sharing the book? Sharing the book?!? I’m beginning to seriously doubt your ability to formulate a plan, here.
me: Yes, but I haven’t told you the most brilliant part.
Michael *the eyebrow, again* …
me: This is so totally going on my blog.
Michael *cracking up* Excellent. Your blog. Are you sure you need me to be here for this? You know what? You do need me. I’m making a new plan. This is the plan. *to Jen* First, you read the book *to my mom* Then, you read the book. *to me* And then, maybe you. Maybe. We’ll see how I feel about this whole blogging thing. I’ll let you know.
So there you have it. Aside from getting to be on a first name basis with award winning authors, the night was an amazing chance to learn about the different approaches people take with their writing. It’s always a pleasure to hear about the love and care that other people put into their words.
… and if they put it into an autograph too, so much the better.
The love and care continues here tomorrow – I have something planned that I think you’re going to like. Or love, even.