Last night I went to The Booksmith on Haight Street for a special event. It was a reading/slide show/raffle/signing for the new teen novel Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown. The host was Daniel Handler, Lisa Brown’s husband. He’s better known as Lemony Snicket.
The Booksmith was packed with people, but I didn’t see anybody who looked like a teenager. It seems people of all ages are reading teen fiction these days. There were quite a few published authors in the crowd, and I wish I knew exactly who they all were. Fortunately the whole event was filmed and photographed for redroom.com so I’ll be able to experience it again. I have posted the link here .
The book sounds really interesting. It’s a love story set during the Civil War featuring ghosts and spirit photography. Lisa Brown illustrated the book, and even though she helped write it, she didn’t take a writing credit. (This is the sort of fact you learn from attending a book event.)
The event began with one of the quirky owners of The Booksmith in a Civil War cap telling us to turn ON our cell phones. Some of us looked around in confusion, but most of the crowd just assumed he meant the opposite. Then Daniel Handler introduced Griffin and Brown. Griffin was wearing a big fake moustache, and Brown was in a flattering vintage dress. They took turns reading from the book, then showed slides of Brown’s illustrations and some of the source materials from their historical research. I found the slides of special interest, since I’m fascinated by early photography.
The next part of the event was fielding questions from the audience. Daniel Handler added some of his own questions to the mix, like “Should we stop buying those organic green beans…?” directed to his wife, not to mention: “Is your picture book coming out in fall better than Daniel Handler’s picture book coming out in fall?” (I’m paraphrasing since I don’t have a perfect memory.) His wife wisely ignored both questions.
The raffle was the most fun. We were each given a ticket when we entered the bookstore, and raffle winners needed to be present to claim their prize. Handler explained that this was a gimmick to make sure everybody stayed to the end. The prizes were Picture the Dead t-shirts, real vintage photographs, a heart-shaped locket from around Lisa Brown’s neck, and ”replica Civil War ephemera.” Many tickets were pulled out of the Civil War cap, but I guess I lot of people didn’t make it to the end. I think it took four draws before someone could claim the locket. Things got a little chaotic when one lady accused Handler of reading the same number twice. He asked her what her number was so he could use it for the “random person ejected from the bookstore” prize. I didn’t win anything, which is too bad, because I really liked those t-shirts.
Lots of people lined up to have the book signed. I couldn’t stay, but I did get a Lemony Snicket autograph!