Thursday, April 23, 2009

James O. Born

I had fun this weekend. I didn’t go camping, or skiing, or to a football game. I didn’t even drink. Really, not a drop. I participated in a book event for the Palm Beach County library system. I’ve done a lot of events. Big and small, close and far. Successful and duds. You name it, I’ve participated in it. But this event seemed to have all the stars line up for one fun, successful, interesting day. And it was close to my house.

The outstanding library system here in my home county is headed up by a guy named John Callahan who is known for his innovation and easy-going attitude. He appreciates people’s efforts, which makes him invaluable as someone in charge of a big organization like the library in the third largest county in Florida (That is a fact I made up, but I think it’s accurate. Palm Beach County is at least in the top five).

This event was spearheaded (at least my part of it) by Stacy Alesi and Barbara Meredith. These are two of the world’s finest librarians and who, if they told me to, I would shoot a random pedestrian. It should also be noted that Stacy is also known as The Book Bitch.

Over lunch one of the organizers thanked me for participating and I said I’d do anything either of these lovely women asked me to. When I was asked why, the answer came easily. They were the first people to really support my books. I didn’t know either of them before I was published, but they jumped on board and gave me advice and assistance whenever and however I needed it. That’s something you don’t forget. In any area of endeavor. You don’t forget your dad’s friend the cop who tells you what life is really like working for a police agency. You don’t forge the first coach that let’s you start. You don’t forget the first friend who takes the rap for you and doesn’t tell the teacher you were there when the window was broken. That kind of help is hard enough to find in this world, so it’s important to remember those who go out of their way.

Certainly Stacy and Barbara had no financial gain from helping me. It didn’t help them on the job. They did it because they’re nice, smart and obviously have great taste in books.

The first part of the event featured a panel moderated by Oline Cogdill of the Sun Sentinel (Along with a great blog called Off the Page that I recommend to anyone who likes books). Thriller writer Ted Bell and mystery writer Lisa Unger were the other two panelists. That’s another thing that made it a great day. They are all friends of mine. I got to talk books with smart friends. How cool is that?

Then I got to introduce Brad Meltzer. I’ve written about my admiration for him as a writer and a person. Saturday it was time to show it in front of a pretty big crowd.

The event was less than a ten minute drive from my house. I’ve ridden my bike past the library on occasion. That’s close.

One thing I was struck by was how different each of the authors books are in content. Lisa Unger writes dark, scary psychological dramas.

This is the description of her forthcoming novel Die For You
Isabel and Marcus Raines are the perfect couple. She is a well known novelist; he is a brilliant inventor of high-tech games. They’ve been married for five years and still enjoy a loving romance.

But one morning, Marcus says he loves her, leaves for work, and disappears into thin air.

Isabel relentlessly tried to reach him when he doesn’t return home. But when his call finally comes, she hears only a man’s terrified scream. The police are of no use. The screams she heard may be a television show, a prank, they tell her. Men leave. They leave all the time.

Isabel races to Marcus’s office, trying to find some answers. Instead she finds herself in the middle of an FBI raid, and she is knocked unconscious. When she awakes in a hospital, she learns that everyone Marcus worked with is dead.

She returns home to find their apartment ransacked, and the police are there. They urge her to check her bank accounts. Her money—their money—is gone.

Then the police discover that Marcus Raines is a dead man. Long dead. Years dead. Isabel has been married to a stranger.

And now the chase is on, because Isabel will not rest until she finds the truth about the man she loved, who he was, where he’s gone, and how he was able to deceive her so completely.

Ted Bell writes modern spy tales with a British agent named Alex Hawke. PW had this to say about TSAR:

In bestseller Bell's rousing fifth thriller (after Spy), Alex Hawke fights the leaders of a new and invigorated Russia, where Vladimir Putin has been locked up in a lethal prison built over a massive radioactive waste site. Evil mastermind Count Ivan Korsakov (aka the Dark Rider) is determined to return Mother Russia to her rightful place in the world order by reacquiring her former colonies, after which he intends to conquer Europe and reign as the new tsar. The only thing standing in his way is Hawke, who, as series fans well know, is more than up to the task of thwarting those who try to take over the globe. Life throws Hawke a curve when he finds himself falling in love with the astoundingly beautiful Anastasia, who just happens to be Korsakov's daughter. As always, Bell pulls out all the stops with terrific action scenes, fiendish murders, diabolical villains, dramatic rescues and all the cool weaponry the reader could possibly hope for.

And I write the crap we talk about all the time.

But we all are considered some form of crime/thriller writers. We all have similar experiences in writing and inspiration. We struggle with the same issues and concerns about depth, pace, plot, characters and all the other shit that goes into a published novel.

This was a long and rambling way to say. Hey I enjoyed my weekend.

By the way, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Go out and hug a librarian. They’ve earned it.


  1. I spoke at the Manhattan Beach Library last night and I agree, these events are always fun and they're FREE!!!!

    BTW, there's a link to Oline's wonderful blog on our sidebar. Check it out.

  2. Jim,
    Some of us get to hug a librarian on a daily basis. It ain't a bad gig. Even if that librarian is old and semi-gimpy.

  3. I was invited to speak at a library meet-the-author event and was one of 17 or 18 to show up for an audience of about 45-50 readers.

    The audience was terrific and asked great questions. At the end, I thanked the librarians for inviting me and one woman whispered, "We were so glad you could come. You were our big name."

    Before I could stop myself I blurted, "How sad is that?"

    Then I figured they told all the writers that and it was OK.

    I love librarians. They're sexy.

  4. I live in Palm Beach County and enjoy the fabulous library system. (not the one close to Jim's house) But, it seems like we the library patrons do not fill writers pockets, since we are reading your books for free. I use to be able to buy many books, but this is one luxury that I had to eliminate due to the economic "down-turn." (Don't you hate that word?) Anyway, I'm so glad that you support the libraries that are so wonderful for all of us who are voracious readers.

  5. Anon,

    You can make it up to us by telling your well-heeled, profligate friends about the books you like.

  6. I love library stories - what would we do without our libraries? They are having to change quickly these days to accommodate the needs of a fast-changing user base, however, there is nothing like being in a place where people are so keen to help you - whether you write the books or read them. Lovely post, Our Jim.