Eavesdropping on an author at a book signing

Third Degree by Greg IlesTonight, when I revisited Joseph-Beth for the third time in as many days, I found a surprise waiting. Author Greg Iles was holding a book signing for his latest book Third Degree. Now, in all honesty, I’ve never heard of Greg Iles before tonight and the thriller genera has never held much attraction for me.

With that said, I must admit that I lurked above the scene as Greg talked to the seated guests at his signing. I leaned over the railing, looking down and found myself eavesdropping with great interest.

There is little that attracts me more than the writing life. I finished a book by that title yesterday, in fact. I’m currently reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott which is also about living the writing life. And then tonight I had the rare opportunity to hear a best-selling author talk about the craft, the work, the frustrations of being a writer.

I felt like a child peeking through the slatted stair rails, eavesdropping, while the adults talked in the parlor about “important” stuff.

Greg credited his musical background as the reason he could understand and use rhythm in writing, “As an author,” he said, “you are weaving a spell one word at a time.”

He also warned hopeful authors, “There’s no THERE there.” He says that despite what you expect, you never really feel like you have “made it” as an author.

The most interesting thing he said was that, although he claims that he seldom has any fun, he did remember one time that he had a great time. He talked about playing in a band with some literary greats and that after the practice session, he and Stephen King went up to King’s hotel room and sat for hours kicking around ideas for stories. He said it was like “shooting heroine directly into a vein” for him as an author.

I can see that. I “get” how extraordinary that would be. After all, I got all inspired by listening to a man I didn’t even know talk about what it is to be an author and live the writing life.

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