One of my objectives in coming to New York was to see my book on an American bookstore shelf. I figured I couldn't take this moment for granted; it could be the only time in my career I have a book out in the USA. In the way of good travel, however, the decision to come led to some twists and turns of fate that made today a bookstore adventure.
It started this morning with a meeting with my wonderful publishing team at William Morrow, after which I asked for bookstore recommendations. One (of the very long list!) was Strand Bookstore, a three-floor wonderland of pages, including a floor devoted to rare books. This also happened to be the location of an author panel tonight called "Romance: it's complicated", featuring Sarah MacLean, Marie Force, LaQuette, Julia London, and Elizabeth Lim. Damon Suede excelled as the moderator, asking poignant and insightful questions (the above quote was one he raised during a discussion of the common misconception that romance is "simple"), and all the authors were articulate and intelligent.
I've never been so captivated by an author panel. They discussed the relationship between romance and autonomy, the nature of happiness as a subversive act, the correlation between the rise of modern democracy and modern literacy, and above all, the rejection of sentimentality as a label for romance. As the title suggested, romance has never been straightforward, IRL or in fiction.
Despite moments of intense sadness (Sarah's apt comparisons between the foundling hospitals of historical London and the current children at the boarder horror makes me so upset I can barely type about it ... as I write this, Twitter is blowing up over the Corey Lewandowski belittling a child with Down Syndrome separated from parents at the border. I am at a loss as to what's wrong with us as a species in my rage right now.), this was an amazing group of authors, speaking in a spectacular venue, and with important things to say. As (I think Marie) said, love is a social issue. I can't imagine a time when that has been more true, both here in the US and in Australia. I feel very privileged to have been able to attend.
And of course, a little icing on this cake was that I did see my book on the shelf! My own micromoment of subversive happiness, amongst the mucky world we live in right now.
Tomorrow, I'm taking an excursion out to Long Island, so I'll post next about that. Stay tuned.