Instead of a reading (though it was offered) and instead of a podium-style speech (too much standing), author Johanna Moran gave a recent bookstore audience a talk-show experience. This was the first time I’d gone to one of these author talks/booksignings and found two big stuffed chairs at the front of the room instead of a table as the main prop. Moran took the chair on the right, and her friend Elsie Souza took the chair on the left.
I assume the two had agreed on the questions ahead of time, or maybe they just went with the flow of Souza knowing enough about her friend to ask the right questions as thoughts came to her. It was probably a combination. The resulting conversation had enough spontaneity to be entertaining and was a nice shift from the formal approach. We listeners enjoyed learning about Moran’s experience researching and writing her book of historical fiction (The Wives of Henry Oades), rewriting it (changing from first person to third person), and finding the just-right agent (Barbara Braun).
The nature of the questions, either Souza’s or from the audience, and the way in which Moran answered them created a warm, personal atmosphere. We learn that her mother wrote short fiction but gave it up when she realized she was starting to resent her children’s demands on her time. What a smart and selfless woman! Part of the discussion centered around whether Moran had considered self-publishing when she had trouble landing an agent for the first-person version of the book. She explained her decision not to self-publish because she wants to focus on writing. She has two novels “under my bed” that may never see the light of day, and she’s fine with that. Speaking of her bed, that’s where she does her writing, too. She’s on the treadmill at eight each morning, but she returns to bed for the writing. I pictured her in her pj’s, but her website shows her fully dressed and on top of the covers.
I asked about her agent, whom she’s very happy with, and I mentioned I was about to begin the search myself. Moran reminded me to get advice from the (wonderfully snarky) site QueryShark and also to check into the informational site AgentQuery, both of which I’ve now spent a lot of time with. Moran also invited an email correspondence with her anytime I have a question she might help me with. I felt hugged; this is a woman who knows how to pay it forward.
Who would she like to see cast in a movie as Henry Oades? Colin Firth. I’m chomping at the bit to read the book, but from what I’ve learned about the storyline, I think he’d be great! Visit Johanna Moran’s website for more information about the book, published as a trade paperback original. That means there never was a hardcover; the publisher decided to go straight to paperback with this one. I find the cover inviting. Do you? Or have I just mesmerized you with the picture of Colin…