Signing a copy of The Path From Regret for my hometown library
I went back to the small town in northern Wisconsin where I grew up this summer and had a very gratifying experience where I was invited to the public library to sign two copies of my debut novel. It took a combination of serendipity and a small community to make that happen.
After the library had received the acquisition request for my novel in May from my college roommate, the librarian handling those requests recognized my name. She turned out to be a retired middle school teacher that I had way back in the day. Knowing someone who knew someone who knew my parents, she asked if I had written a book. Not long thereafter I got a message from her directly asking that when I visited my family this summer if I would stop by and sign the book. Of course I said yes, that it would be an honor.
In just about every podcast episode that I've recorded so far I've given a shout-out to that library. I spent many hours there when I was much younger for "story hour," fulfilling summer reading program requirements, and trying to find the next big adventure book. The public library is where I checked out the book that made me a lifelong SFF fan, which was Dragon's Blood by Jane Yolen. I can still remember the feeling of the cellophane dust jacket on the hardcover copy that the library had in the children's fantasy section. I checked that book out so frequently the librarians knew what I had in my hands just at a glance when I came to the counter. Many, many year later, I have all the Pit Dragon books that Yolen wrote now on my shelf in paperback, but I'll never forget the feeling of what felt like a huge hardcover novel in my hands when I was young.
On the day I arrived at the library I wasn't sure what to expect, but I immediately recognized my old teacher behind the counter. I got a little wave from her while I waited in line behind a couple of people. When we went off to the computer area of the library where there were large tables, she brought out two copies of my book. One already had the barcode and ID stickers on the spine (it really made me happy to see the unicorn "Fantasy" label there), and the second she told me was going to be auctioned off at a fundraiser for the library. I signed both and had a nice time chatting with her and the library director, who came over to say hello. We took a couple of photos that could be used for the auction before I went back to my family's house.
I left the library feeling grateful that I had a new connection to my hometown after living out on the east coast for so long. What I hadn't expected was what came about a week later after I had returned home. I got an email from my aunt with a one-word subject, "Book." There was no text in her email, just an attached photo to a local newspaper clipping. One of the photos taken at the library had been submitted and there was a short blurb about the book and my visit to the library to sign it. I asked my parents to buy me a copy of the newspaper and mail it to me so I can have it as a keepsake. I think it's pretty special that the first print press about my book came from my hometown newspaper. It isn't going to be read by a huge audience, but it might lead someone to checking the novel out at the public library and taking them on a journey that they enjoy.
Thanks for stopping by.