Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Fantasies: Starvation Lake

Last Thursday, I attended a book signing for author Bryan Gruley’s debut mystery, Starvation Lake, at Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord, Michigan. Ostensibly, I went to the event in order to prepare myself for my own book signing (for the Moon Michigan travel guide), which is happening tomorrow morning (11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) at Saturn. While I knew that a book-signing event for a debut novel would be markedly different than one focused on a regional travel guide, I still hoped that my attendance would ease my mind about my own event – which will incidentally be my first official book signing EVER! Little I did know, however, that I would garner so much more from Bryan’s book signing.

My husband, Dan, and I arrived at the independent bookstore a few minutes before the event was supposed to begin. In doing so, we were able to meet (in person, finally) the store owner, Jill Miner, and the store manager, Karin Beyer – who both do a wonderful job of promoting local authors – as well as the featured author, Bryan Gruley, himself. As it turned out, Bryan, an award-winning Chicago bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, was a funny, good-natured guy – passionate about his novel, supportive of my own novel-writing dreams, and willing to answer any and all of my pesky questions about his recent experiences with editors, agents, and publicists.

By listening to Bryan speak about his story, his main character, and his real-life inspiration for Starvation Lake, I not only gained a sense of peace about my upcoming sit-and-sign. I also learned a lot about the publishing industry, felt renewed pride for my own novel (currently undergoing the much-needed beta-reading phase), and was overjoyed to discover that Bryan is represented by one of my favored literary agents – a fact that helped to dispel my doubt that a debut novelist can indeed find success in our current economy. Even better, though, I became intrigued by Bryan’s novel itself, the first in a three-book series about a murder-solving journalist in a small northern Michigan town, where ice hockey has always been the sport of choice.

So, at the end of Bryan’s question-and-answer session, I purchased his book and asked him to sign it. “To Laura,” he wrote, “my fellow scribe. Good luck telling your tales.” During the past week, I finished Starvation Lake, a wonderfully atmospheric mystery about a singularly likable fellow – a book that I would highly recommend to any mystery lover. How much better could this past week have been? To have met an approachable novelist like Bryan Gruley – who has an amazing book and a willingness to help unpublished writers like me. Why, just yesterday, he dropped me an email, thanking me for attending his book signing and wishing me the best with all of my writing endeavors.

Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that Bryan Gruley has a fan for life.


Steph Damore said...

Wow, Bryan Gruley sounds like a great guy - and a murder-mystery book set in northern Michigan? That's awesome.

It's sounds like your week has been fan-flippin'-tastic. Hope everything goes great tomorrow!

Weronika said...

I hate it when my fellow bloggers give me something new to read it -- I'm overwhelmed as it is. ;) (I'm just kidding, of course.) Thank you for sharing this story and gem with us.

I've attended a few events like this in the Twin Cities with local poets and artists, and once had Kate DiCamillo sign one of her children's books for me, but this is quite an awesome experience! Thanks for telling us about it. :)

I hope beta-reading for RH goes well!

Laura Martone said...

Thanks, Steph. I'll let you know how the signing goes - and, yes, Bryan was truly gracious. Hope I'll be just as gracious with an unpublished writer someday... Okay, I should go to bed. Have a wonderful weekend!

And as for my dear Weronika, oops, sorry - but, seriously, the book is well worth a look. It actually made me long to experience a Michigan winter, which I've never had the bravery to do. That's cool that you've had your own groovy signing experiences - and thanks for the well wishes re: the beta-reading process. Of course, I'm still ecstatic about your critique!

Morgan Xavier said...

That's so cool. The next time I pass an author doing a book signing (which I actually have at least twice in the past two months) I will have to work up the nerve to say hi. Now that you've mentioned Bryan Gruley's book, I'll have to check it out. I have to admit, I haven't read a mystery in a long time :)

My best wishes to you for your book signing tomorrow!

Stephanie Faris said...

He sounds like a great guy. I'll have to check the book out. Heather Graham (the author, not the actress) once came to Nashville. I showed up, representing the local RWA chapter (it was a weeknight so turnout was low) and I ended up being the only person who was there. So I took advantage of her being all alone at this signing and stayed around and talked to her the entire 2 hours. She told me so much about the was an incredibly enriching experience.

A misinterpreted wave said...

Wow. What an amazing experience. I guess like parents, teachers and any others we like to see as so far removed from us, authors are human too - even published ones. I love meeting them, but still dream of the greener grass on the other side.

Hope you radio gig went well :)

Laura Martone said...

Hi, Morgan! Yes, do attend as many book signings as you can. Bryan's was my first (sad to say - I should've been to others, but oh, well!), and I plan to attend more in the near future. Not only are they educational for unpublished writers, but it also makes you feel good to support others. And you should definitely check out Bryan's book - it's really good! Oh, and my own book signing went really well... thanks for the well wishes.

Hi, Stephanie! Yeah, Bryan is a great guy - definitely check the book out. That's cool that you went out to support Heather Graham (I know, the author, not the actress) - seems like it was good for her... and great for you! How wonderful to learn about the business directly from an author - there really is nothing like it.

Hi, Wave! I agree - authors ARE people, too, so it's nice when one seems like a regular Joe. But, of course, like you, I dream of being a published writer myself. Even at my travel guide signing yesterday, it was nice to chat with the buyers, especially the ones who asked about the publishing industry. I may not know how the fiction world works yet, but I've learned a little while doing my travel guides, and it's nice to inspire others. I even met a children's book author (with manuscripts under her bed) and encouraged her not to give up - it felt great! Oh, and my radio gig went well - it was my first, but apparently I was good enough to be asked back as a regular guest. Ah, sweet validation. :-)

Martha W. said...

This post is a month old now and thanks to your post on Nathan's blog... *sigh*... now I have to go buy Bryan's book! The torture of it all! :)

It is great to hear that your signing went well too. And a bonus that you have a regular guest spot on the radio gig! Awesome!

I just recently started blogging (*cough* yesterday) about my own recently started attempts to get my ms published. It is going to be interesting! Yours is definitely an inspiration, keep it up!

If you have a minute and nothing else to do (ha ha!) - stop by and let me know what you think!

Laura Martone said...

Hi, Martha! Welcome to my blog! Sorry that my raving review has worked. Hehe. Oh, wait, I'm not sorry - Bryan's book is a good one, and I want it to sell well. He is a debut novelist, after all, just as we hope to be someday.