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RJ Julia appearance

Last night’s appearance at RJ Julia Booksellers was delightful. A warm and engaging audience, exciting questions, gracious and charming hosts, and an opportunity to speak about my book and the writing process in general, which I adore.

And I love that bookstore a great deal. Before publishing my book, I appreciated RJ Julia for its atmosphere, selection, and location, but now that I’ve gotten to know the people who work there, I’ve come to realize that they could be selling their books from a Radio Flyer on some street corner and still be fine. It’s not the building, the shelves, or even the books that make a great bookstore. It’s the people working there who make all the difference.

Thanks to everyone who supported me and the bookstore last night.

I also had a chance to tour the behind-the-scenes world of RJ Julia, which is much larger than I could have ever imagined. Offices, lunch rooms, and stockrooms galore, along with the dreaded “Return Hallway,” where unwanted books go to die. As an author, walking past the small stack of books awaiting their death sentences was sad indeed, reminding me of The Island of Misfit Toys. My editor once told me that “even writers like Patterson have returns,” but it’s still a sad thought and one I like to pretend will never happen to me.

I closed my talk with a few book recommendations, which I’d like to repeat here.

In the children’s book category, my daughter’s favorite book, based on her chewing patterns and desire to consume the book, is Night Night Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton. It’s cute as hell, and listening to my wife say the word Pookie just about breaks my heart every time.

If you prefer nonfiction, I recommend Close to Shore, an account of the shark attacks off the coast of New Jersey in the 1920s that inspired Peter Benchley’s Jaws. It may actually be scarier than the fictionalized version of the story because… well… it really happened. Wonderfully written and a great snapshot of the period as well.

In fiction, I recommended Billy Boyle by Jim Benn, a local author who works in the same school district as me. This is the first in a series of books about the title character, and his newest book (the fourth in the series) will be out in just a few weeks. They are classic World War II mystery stories, and when I read them, I can’t help but envision the action in black-and-white, Casablanca-like. The historical components of the books are fascinating, and the stories themselves are fast-paced and fun.

And oddly enough, I even recommended a cookbook, though I never actually cook. The Ex-Boyfriend’s Cookbook, by Thisbe Nissen and Erin Ergenbright, is a collection of recipes from the authors’ many ex-boyfriends. One side of the page describes the boyfriend and the relationship, and the other offers a recipe from the former beau. I’ve never actually attempted any of these recipes, but I love reading the author’s interpretation of the guys and the relationships a great deal. The book is fun and witty, and exceptionally well-designed.

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