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.
3 hours ago