Grace and Poise on a Book Tour

Author Lily King

Author Lily King

Margaret Mead circa 1933 as inspiration for Nell in Lily King's #Euphoria

Margaret Mead circa 1933 as inspiration for Nell in Lily King’s #Euphoria

It’s the rare author who gets sent on cross-country book tours these days. But when your book hits the front page of The New York Times Book Review, well, that’s a different story (or kettle of fish or ball of wax). I don’t know exactly when Lily King’s publisher, Grove Atlantic, decided to send her on the road to sign copies of Euphoria, but she’s been traveling each week now since June 11. The Times review was published June 7, and I assume the publisher was given some advance notice. If Grove Atlantic didn’t already have a tour in the planning, that would have forced the issue for sure. But the tour idea probably started several months earlier, when the publisher learned there would be starred reviews (extremely high praise) in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Kirkus, for example. Maybe Grove Atlantic already knew what it had and budgeted the tour from the get-go.

Lily King taught a week-long class I took in 2011 at the Stonecoast Writers Conference offered by the University of Southern Maine. (I blogged about it here and here.) Her students loved her. She shared personal pieces of herself alongside the professional, such that we could understand this important concept: Neither writing nor a life of writing is easy for anyone, but if it’s what you want to do, it’s yours to make happen.

Lily’s ability and willingness to share her experiences shone through in a talk I heard her give in Damariscotta last Thursday (June 10). She expanded on the snippets provided in her author video, embedded below. Two of the memorable moments experienced on Thursday, however, couldn’t have been planned. One was a parent in the audience asking how a talented 16-year-old could be encouraged in his/her writing. Lily asked for the gender of the person in question, which led to learning he/she was sitting next to the parent. I couldn’t get a sighting myself (to learn gender), but Lily was able to speak directly to the budding writer. Her advice was to make time to write something, any bit of something, each day. She didn’t say just that; she expounded on it and gave caring time to the teen.

In a second memorable moment Lily effectively silenced an audience member who asked a couple questions and then arrogantly pronounced “Shame on you” because Lily hadn’t researched a particular book by a particular writer while creating Euphoria. In fact, she had read at least one of that writer’s works, but when it came to the book in question, she explained, it would have taken her to a different time and place, one that might have forced a future-pacing or variant story thread onto the fictional story she was writing. Her response (worded better than I have paraphrased) was masterful, and the audience member accepted her answer.

Grace and poise. If I’m ever fortunate enough to hit the road to promote a book, I’m calling Lily for some pointers. (Also my friend Johanna Moran, author of The Wives of Henry Oades, and soon to be acclaimed author of her new masterpiece. You heard it here first.)

Here’s Lily King. By the way, the jacketed hardcover is beautifully designed, inside and out, and I keep touching the cover and pages. Sensuous packaging to go with a sensuous title. Can you say gift book?

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One Response to Grace and Poise on a Book Tour

  1. Sandy says:

    Meredith. many thanks for giving me a copy of your Lily post, but then I wanted to read it again on line. Where I found the video! More thanks. Add me to the grateful list: the list of Stonecoast students who were lucky to have Lily. Character, character, character!

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