Friday, February 12, 2010

Meeting Elizabeth Kostova + Some Thoughts on BEA

Despite the fact that Montreal is the second largest city in Canada and hosts the Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival every year, not that many English-speaking authors visit Montreal. So when Linda let Donna and me know that Elizabeth Kostova was doing a reading and book signing at Paragraphe Bookstore last Tuesday evening, I knew I had to go, even though I haven’t read either The Historian, Kostova’s bestselling debut (the first debut novel to land at number one on The New York Times bestseller list), or her latest, The Swan Thieves. And I undoubtedly committed a further faux pas by not buying The Swan Thieves at the event (I really dislike hardcovers and they’re so expensive!). I did, however, bring my copy of The Historian to get signed!

Kostova read two passages from The Swan Thieves and then took questions from audience members. Paragraphe isn’t very big, so there were probably no more than 20 people there, but the questions were very interesting, as were her answers. Afterwards, I thought I should have taken notes! Kostova did mention that she did extensive interviews with a psychiatrist and several artists (and also observed artists at work) in order to write this book.

Following the questions, we lined up to get our books signed. When it was my turn to actually talk to a real live author, I felt completely tongue-tied and had no idea what to say! (In the end, I told her I’d enjoyed her readings and was looking forward to reading her books, and she thanked me for coming, but I felt completely silly for being so nervous!)

Here’s a photo Donna took of Elizabeth Kostova and me (don’t I look nervous? I couldn’t figure out what to do with my hands!):

Elizabeth Kostova (right) and me

As Donna, Linda and I left the store, I remarked that if I was this nervous meeting one author, imagine what I’ll be like at BEA when I’m surrounded by authors, publicists and big-name bloggers? (Yup, after reading the BEA tour posts organized by the Book Blogger Convention folks, especially Amy’s, I’m determined to go to BEA with Linda and Cindy—and maybe Donna and Tina—even though I haven’t quite figured out how to pay for this trip yet.) I’m afraid I’m going to be a nervous wreck! Does anyone else feel this way? (Please reassure me!) Also, if you’re going too and would like to meet up, let me know!

You can also read Linda’s and Donna’s posts about this event:
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  1. I'll post about this book signing next week.

    I think the pic looks great (if I don't say so myself!). I recall you said to me that you were nervous but I don't think you look it in the photo. Anyway, I'm always a bit shy when I speak to authors, but I did get more used to it.

  2. Arghhh! Avis, that's me who posted the first comment, not Pierre!

  3. Isn't Elizabeth Kostova great?! Don't be nervous about meeting other bloggers - every single one I've met has been exactly how I thought they'd be. The authors at BEA will be so excited to meet you, they'll put you at ease right away. I can't wait to meet you!

  4. I really liked The Historian and will probably give her new book a try sometime (I also prefer paperbacks when I can make myself wait). It sounds like a fun night and it's always interesting to hear authors speak. Unfortunately it's rare that any authors come to my town!

  5. Avis what a great picture. I should have gone to the signing. Oh well.

    Its okay you and me can be nervous together at BEA LOL

  6. Hope to see you there-my physician knows an well known author that I love-I am always upset I do not get invited over for dinner-BEA should be fun.

  7. Avis, I love the picture! I am so glad you guys went. We talked about it, then I didn't hear anything back, so I was wondering!

    Don't worry about talking to authors, they are just like us - and with all the communications we have had over the last year with them, thanks to our blogs, I am even less intimidated.

    I really love this picture!

  8. I get nervous too meeting authors, which I can't understand. Lovely photo of you both!

  9. Lol! I didn't know what to do with my hands either! I thought my hand (the one closest to the camera) was so awkward in the picture, but I'm glad I went to the event, and I'm glad you were able to make it too. =)

    Don't worry about BEA. It'll be fun, and it may sound cheesy, but we'll have each other. =)

  10. I would have totally lost my voice. At least, you have a very friendly smile and clean hands.

  11. I loved the Historian and I can't wait to read The Swan Thieves. I'm so jealous you were able to meet her!

  12. You look just fine!! And I'm trying to convince my husband to let me go to BEA so I hope I get to see you there!

  13. You look fine in your photo. Not nervous at all. I wish I could attend BEA. With these forced furloughs at work I just cannot justify the cost this year.

  14. I'm so glad you got to meet her! Do let me know if you decide to come to BEA.

  15. Just saw your name in the drawing over at and wanted to say congratulations!!

  16. Isn't it fun to meet authors? Like you though I get all giddy and barely remember what I said afterwards. Haha...

    How fun that you get to go to BEA! I hope you'll have tons of fun and of course tell us all about it :)

  17. That's very exciting that you'll be going to BEA! I'm trying to get the time off work, but I'm just not sure if it's in the cards for me. I hope so, though.

    I'm sure that if I do end up going I'll probably be either a nervous wreck or a total wallflower, so while I can't reassure exactly, I can definitely relate!

  18. Do you remember the story about a Canadian author who went to an awards ceremony, and she saw someone there looking very shy & uncomfortable, and it turned out to be Margaret Laurence? I can't remember who the other author was, who met M.L. (also who told this story)...anyway it always made me feel better to think, the authors can be nervous too!

  19. I was tongue tied when I had Isaac Asimov sign a program card for me. Imagine! Going to one of his lectures and forgetting to even bring your favorite book of his! Nervous around authors much? Don't be! I was too! I have not read "The Historian" yet, but I look forward to it also.

  20. Hello from rainy London!

    This is my first visit to your lovely blog. I am a big fan of the Historian, bizarrely my mum gave it to me too read just before her and my dad moved to Bucharest. That meant when I visited I got to drag them around all of the Romanian locations in the book. By far the weirdest was Lake Snagov and the teeny tiny church Vlad Dracul is said to be buried in.. very atmospheric!

    I'll be re-reading The Historian as part of the BookShelf Challenge so I'll put some pic's up... come over and see!

  21. I LOVE meeting authors and have met quite a few. And I've been nervous every time :)

  22. Thanks for talking the pic, Donna! BEA will definitely be a crash course in getting over my nervousness about talking to authors (or not)...

    Kathy, definitely the bloggers I've met so far have been great (and not intimidating at all). I'm looking forward to meeting you too!

    Glad to hear you enjoyed The Historian too, Danielle. So far I've (mostly) only heard great things about it!

    Cindy, yeah, it's too bad you didn't come too! (And thanks for the moral support!)

    Esme, hope to see you there too!

    Thanks, Tina! I can't help being a bit intimidated by meeting authors though; email is so much less nerve-wracking!

    Margaret, to be honest, I'm quite shy, so I pretty much get nervous meeting anyone!

    Linda, I'm still a bit bummed that I couldn't see your picture on your blog! (And I'm glad we'll have each other at BEA; I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to go all by myself!)

    Thanks, Tea!

    Angie, I love the name of your blog!

    Oh I hope you can make it, Jenners!

    Thanks, Ti. Too bad you won't make it to BEA; I would have loved to meet you.

    Miriam, I'm looking forward to meeting you!

    Thanks, Jenny! I'm so excited!

    I'll definitely report back, Iliana, although you may have to wait until the whole thing is over, since I don't own a laptop at the moment...

    Megan, I hope you manage to go too! (I have a feeling I will have nervous wreck and wallflower moments in New York!)

    Brogan, now that's an author I would have loved to meet (although we probably wouldn't have said much to each other)! Thanks for the reminder that authors can be nervous too!

    M.P, how exciting that you got to meet Asimov! I know, I've met favourite authors (like Jane Urquhart) and completely forgotten to bring my books to get signed. Sigh.

    Book Shelf, that sounds like a fantastic trip! I'm looking forward to seeing your pictures.

    Stacy, yeah, I have a feeling I'll always be nervous too!