NEIBA, Thus Far

Josie Leavitt - October 2, 2009

Okay, I must confess: I’m late for the breakfast with Mary Karr, Anita Shreve and Sarah Vowell. And I’m paying by the minute for computer time because I poured a beer in my laptop, and it’s not back from the tech guys. (Miraculously, it survived — well, the keys S, E, W, D didn’t make it, so I’m getting a new keyboard.) I will have a more complete post on Monday, with photos, but here’s a teaser about the show.

The New England Book Awards Luncheon was really good. It’s the first time I’ve been to one and it was quite moving. The rep of the year, Roger Saganario (who was my rep, back in the day), was gracious and thoughtful about indies; Sy Montgomery won for non-fiction and she said it’s funny that she’s often introduced in the same breath with pirahnas and scat. Andrew Clements, the children’s winner, said what scares him is "What’s next?" I don’t think he needs to worry, he’s written over 50 books, he seems to have a lot of imagination and a deep pool of ideas. Ward Just got the most laughs by saying, "No one’s gotten rich selling Ward Just books, including Ward Just." Geraldine Brooks, the adult winner, pretty made everyone tear up with a simple story of a tombstone she visits on Martha’s Vineyard. She was charming, funny and honestly, I loved her jacket. Tilbury House won in the publishing category, and I loved the call to promote not only local indies but regional publishers as well.

The panel about recommended books for the holidays was a whirlwind of great titles, far too many to list here. What intrigued me the most were the different handselling styles I saw. I picked up tips from each presenter.

The highlight of the day was the Children’s Dinner. The speakers were Shaun Tan, Shannon Hale and Mo Willems. The funniest part of the dinner, frankly, wasn’t a presenter, but Kenny Brechner’s fabulous joke about not being able to sell The Men of NECBA calendar, which featured only him for every month. Shaun Tan spoke about how he’s always drawn. He showed drawings he did as a child and it’s no wonder he’s so good. The cat he drew as a six-year-old was pretty stunning.

Shannon Hale was next and I had the pleasure of introducing her. She is wonderful. She also had a Power Point presentation about her life. But it started off with pictures of famous children’s writers and Shannon just in the frame of every photo. Clearly, she had fun setting up these "stalking" pictures. She did cry, and then stuck her tongue out at me, even though I did not make her cry — the quote she read made her cry. Shannon tears up easily, and that’s actually pretty darned charming. She said she starts writing by asking questions. I love hearing authors talk about their work. It’s a privilege glimpse inside their minds and see how they create.

Mo Willems closed out the evening and he taught us how to draw his famous pigeon, which is far easier than I thought it would be. There is a reason for this: "I like to make sure all my characters can be drawn by a five-year-old." Mo told two very funny stories that actually didn’t have anything with writing books, and we laughed and then went home with some yummy books all signed by the authors.

More later….

2 thoughts on “NEIBA, Thus Far

  1. Miriam Lubet

    You are so lucky to be able to attend events like this. I would love it but I’m not a bookseller or a publisher or an author. I’m a reader and I teach first grade.

  2. Joey Mitchell

    WOW, Roger was my rep too back in the day. I was the buyer for Booksmith in the Hanover mall, in Hanover Mass. He was a great rep and spoiled me with wonderful books. I am so thrilled he won Rep of the year, YAY Roger!!!!


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