‘Talking shop’ with Glen Duncan and Victor Lavalle

The Miami Book Fair happened this past week and I was happy to have gone. I had taken a look at the lineup a couple of months ago, long before things were more firmed up and was disappointed, so had mostly put it out of mind. Then after being reminded about the fair on a radio segment on WLRN I decided to check out the website to see who would be appearing this weekend. To my delight, Victor Lavalle, author of the recently released The Devil in Silver was on a panel with two other great authors.

Glen Duncan reading from ‘Talulla Rising’

The title was, “Striking Fear: New Novels: Justin Cronin on The Twelve, Glen Duncan on Talulla Rising and Victor LaValle on The Devil in Silver.” Each author gave a great reading but I was enthralled by Glen Duncan.While I’ve had his books on my list of to-reads for a while, I quickly went out after the panel and bought a copy of The Last Werewolf (here reviewed by Justin Cronin). I think that I could listen to him read the instructions for churning butter and find it utterly captivating. You can tell that he has had a lot of practice reading aloud, his pacing and tone are nearly perfect. And he’s got an English accent to boot. I was disappointed in the way that the Miami Book Fair had set up the Q&A period afterwards though. Only one person asked a question, and I think it was because they had set a mic up in the middle row of the auditorium. Rather than running around and handing the mic to people at their seats, it felt like an imposition to stand in front of the crowd that way and ask questions. At least for me, who has terrible stage fright, it was too much.

After the panel the authors went downstairs to sign copies of their books. I hemmed and hawed a bit, struggling with whether or not I should go talk with them. Juliette finally pushed me on and I went up and started asking them questions about writing. I’m sure they probably thought I was a bit of a nut but what the hell, I had fun and got some good feedback from them.

They both said that the writing process was different for each of their books. Duncan said that he plans as little as possible while Lavalle said that he sets up guideposts to help keep his direction. Both remarked that they had worked years on their first books and admitted that they had to do a lot of rewrites, especially earlier in their careers.

Talking shop with Glen Duncan and Victor Lavalle at the Miami Book Fair.

Duncan signed my book, “Best wishes and good luck with the book!”

Lavalle signed, “A pleasure to meet and talk shop!”

And then the coolest part of the day happened. Victor Lavalle asked me, “are you on Twitter?” I said that I was and he said that he recognized me! I was in total geek fan nirvana. We had a brief conversation a couple of weeks ago on Twitter and I mentioned him in a tweet earlier this week regarding the book fair.

It was incredible for me as a starting-out author to actually be able to come in and ‘talk shop’ with these guys. They were both so humble and nice about all of my questions. I felt like I was talking with peers and it was amazing. Big thanks to both for making my week!