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Friday, June 30, 2017

Road Trip- Summer With Robin in Rhode Island

I'm lucky that living in New York City allows me the opportunity to attend many book signings, talks, and sometimes, book launch parties. Last week I made a road trip to Rhode Island to visit my sister-in-law (who also loves books) to attend Summer With Robin at the Quidnessett Country Club.
A view from the Quidnessett Counrty Club

The setting is beautiful, and it was a perfect evening for book fun. We started the day wandering around Newport, my first trip there. It's such a lovely place! We walked around the wharf, had a delicious lunch at 22 Bowen's, splitting a burger and some polenta fries, and we each had a Kiwi Burst, a refreshing cocktail of rum, pineapple vodka, kiwi and mint.

After visiting the quaint little shops (the Newport Mansions Store on Bannister Wharf is a must-stop), we headed over to the country club. We had VIP tickets, which entitled us to a cocktail hour, with passed appetizers and a pasta station, and an opportunity to meet the authors and have our books signed.

The sold-out event was filled with mostly women, all readers, many of whom have attended this event annually. Robin introduced each author and gave them a few minutes to give a short overview and read from their books.
Robin Kall with her sister and the authors

Jillian Cantor's novel, The Lost Letter, is an historical novel set in two time periods. The first is 1938 Austria during the German occupation, featuring a stamp engraver apprentice.
The Lost Letter

The second time period is 1989, when Katie has to move her father to an Alzheimer's care unit and has his stamp collection appraised. The appraiser finds an unusual stamp, and that ties the two time periods together. It's a story that features family, strong women, and the Jewish resistance.

Angelica Baker's Our Little Racket is a debut novel set in 2008 in Greenwich Connecticut, about the aftermath of the failure of large bank, and how the failure affects five women involved with the bank's CEO, who faces accusations of wrongdoing.
Our Little Racket

Laura Dave, whose last novel 800 Grapes was a bestseller, is back with Hello, Sunshine, a modern tale about the role of social media in our lives. Her protagonist is a successful YouTube personality who has managed to work her way into a Food Network TV show. When she is hacked, it comes out that she is a fraud. The book has already been optioned for a movie, with Dave's screenwriter husband, Josh Singer (Spotlight) writing the screenplay.
Hello Sunshine

Kall asked the women what their inspiration was, and Baker said that when her writing was going poorly, and she started to read about the Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers collapses, which she was unfamiliar with. She said she can read fiction when she writes.

Cantor can't read historical fiction when she writes. She didn't know anything about stamps when she started, and her agent suggested the topic to her. During a visit to the National Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, she was fascinated by the Resistance exhibit, and the fact that many were so young was impressive.

Her character Elena was inspired by a woman in the exhibit. Cantor created a Pinterest board with items about stamps, the Resistance, and Kristallnacht that helped her with research. She spoke of the ordinary people who lived in extraordinary times.

Dave was intrigued by the Sony hack, it made her wonder whose life when put under a microscope would look pure, and took her story from there. She immersed herself in the Food Network and food bloggers to get the look and feel for her character.

She mentioned something that the audience found interesting. She spoke about a marriage researcher who said she could tell what makes a marriage work. If the couple used the word "we" rather than "I', they would make it. You could hear the wheels turning as the audience all considered what word they used. Dave made the audience laugh when she said she now says "We're annoyed at you" when talking to her husband.

The writers talked about eavesdropping on others' conversations (at restaurants, on subways), the publishers asking them to be active on social media, Skyping with book clubs (they like it), and situations they won't use (most having to do with immediate family).

Dave spoke about spilling water on her computer and losing 200 pages of a novel. She was sad for a day, but then bucked up and started again. That led to a discussion about the importance of emailing the manuscript to yourself as you go along.

Kall finished up by asking my favorite question- what are you reading?- to the authors. Cantor raved about Georgia Hunter's We Were The Lucky Ones, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Sarah Dunn's The Arrangement and an older nonfiction book, Erik Lawson's In The Garden of the Beasts.

Baker is reading Julia Buntin's Marlena, Stephen Florida, The Epiphany Machine, and Britt Bennett's The Mothers.

Dave had five books on her list: James Hansen's First Man, (which is also a movie written by her husband starring Ryan Gosling as astronaut Neil Armstrong), J. Courtney Sullivan's Saints For All Occasions, Matt Klam's Who Is Rich?, and two older books, Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys and Isabel Gilles' memoir It Happens Every Day.

Robin had delicious cookies for all of us on our way out, and it was the perfect ending to an informative and interesting evening. You can find out more Reading With Robin's events here.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh, what a fun an event and having a member of your family to share it with makes it even better!