The San Jose Book Group Expo – Day One

October 25-26, 2008

My husband and I spent the weekend in San Jose at the third annual (Third Chapter) of the Book Group Expo and had a wonderful time. Not only were there some great booths in the marketplace, but the planners of this event brought in some big name authors and provided two days of author panels. For each hour (except the first one), attendees could choose between three different author panels (or salons). Here was what Day One was like for me:

10:00-11:00AM Opening Salon

Write or Wrong: The Unreliable Narrator Defines Virtue with authors Andre Dubus III, Diana Spechler, and Susanne Pari.

This was a fascinating panel. I especially enjoyed listening to Andre Dubus, who is darkly humorous. He talked about how he writes and thinks (he says he does NOT think when he writes, but is in a “dream state” of sorts).  When someone asked how he writes female characters he said “Basically I have to castrate myself…not literally of course!”

Diane Spechler and Andre Dubus III

Andre Dubus III; me getting my book signed by him

*Click on above photos to enlarge

11:15AM – 12:15PM

Come Together: Self-Discovery Through Friendship with authors Annie Barrows, Ron Carlson, Kate Jacobs, Deborah Copaken Kogan, and Frances Dinkelspiel

This was a really fun panel. I was looking forward to hearing Annie Barrows talk about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society … and she did not disappoint. She was interesting and sweet and told the audience that her aunt was a fabulous story-teller who never finished anything (sadly for us!). I also discovered a new author in Deborah Copaken Kogan who began her writing life as a journalist and has just written her first novel: Between Here and April…which I bought at the Expo.

Ron Carlson and Annie Barrows

Me getting my books signed by Annie Barrows (top) and Deborah Copaken Kogan (bottom)

*click on photos to enlarge

1:45PM – 2:45PM

Which Witch is Which: Covens and Other Cliques with authors Brunonia Barry, Kathleen Kent, Erika Mailman, and Michelle Gagnon

I loved this panel. Michelle Gagnon moderated and was engaging and kept things moving along (she is also a really fascinating person to talk to…she writes crime fiction and I am kicking myself that I did not buy one of her books there and get her to sign it!). Brunonia Barry is very talkative. She talked a lot about what Salem is like now-a-days. Kathleen Kent and Erika Mailman have both written historical fiction novels (Kent’s is set in New England, while Mailman’s is set in medieval Germany) and their research into the books was fascinating.

Michelle Gagnon, Erika Mailman, Kathleen Kent (top) AND Kathleen Kent and Brunonia Barry (bottom)

(far left) Me getting my book signed by Brunonia Barry

(middle) Kathleen Kent

(far right) Me getting my book signed by Kathleen Kent

*click on photos to enlarge

3:00PM – 4:00PM

Now That You’re  Gone: Grief Seeks Solace with authors Julia Glass, Ann Packer, Irvin Yalom and Lauren John

I enjoyed the deep, personal insights of Julia Glass and Ann Packer during this panel. I have not yet read a book by Julia Glass, but I immediately felt I somehow knew her. She was dressed in this fabulous, very colorful outfit and was just really dynamic. Side note: Although I did not attend the panel where Marisa de los Santos spoke, I was able to meet her during the book signings.

(left and center) Julia Glass; (far right) me having Marisa de los Santos sign my books…to her left is Ann Packer

*click on photos to enlarge

Books I bought on Day One:

House of Sand and Fog, by Andre Dubus III

Between Here and April, by Deborah Copaken Kogan

Tomorrow, I will post Day Two of the Expo!

Please follow and like the blue thistle


Skip to comment form

  1. But what was the Which Witch is Which? panel actually about?

    • Deborah Copaken Kogan on October 28, 2008 at 04:39

    Hey! Love the photo. So nice to have met you. I hope you enjoy my book. All the best, Deborah

    • Kathy on October 28, 2008 at 05:12

    That looks like so much fun. Is your hubby a reader, too? Or, was he just being sweet?

    • Wendy on October 28, 2008 at 06:15

    Callista: The discussion really centered around the persecution of women…and how most people accused of witchcraft were women; also that it centered around lack of food (hunger)and property rights. There was also discussion about superstition and why Wiccan might appeal to teenage girls, and how much of its appeal may be related to power and the return to nature vs. urban. It was fascinating.

    Deborah: Thanks so much for stopping by! I am very much looking forward to reading your book 🙂

    Kathy: My husband is not a huge book reader (he likes woodworking magazines!), so he was being sweet to go with me, BUT he ended up really enjoying the two days and found the panels quite interesting!

    • 3m on October 28, 2008 at 08:51

    This sounds like so much fun, Wendy!! I’ll look forward to your next post!

  2. Looks like a great set of panels and authors. I’m glad you had a good time.

    • Tara on October 28, 2008 at 11:55

    Wow! What a teriffic event – thanks for sharing so much of it. The panel with Kathleen Kent and Brunonia Barry sounds amazing!

    • Teddy on October 28, 2008 at 21:44

    Wow, what awesome panels. I would especially been interested in Which Witch is Which, but they all sound good.

  3. So glad you enjoyed the panel! I thought it was a lot of fun, and wow, all three books are absolutely amazing. I read them in the space of a week and tore through them, highly recommend them all. And isn’t Andre charming? We have the same agent, I emt him at BEA a few months back, lovely man. Hope to see you again soon!


    • Wendy on October 29, 2008 at 07:58

    Michelle (3M): My next post is up 🙂

    Serena: Thanks – it was fabulous.

    Tara: That was a great panel – but the whole event was terrific.

    Teddy: *nods* I hope to go to this again next year.

    Michelle: The only book I have not read yet was Erika’s novel…but I hope to read that one at some point. And I AM going to buy and read your books too 🙂 Yes, Andre is a charming guy! Thanks for stopping by again 🙂

  4. Thanks for posting that picture of me with Andre! I’m so glad you made it to our panel.

Comments have been disabled.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)