Sunday, May 27, 2012

Diana Abu-Jaber at the Gaithersburg Book Festival

Part 3 of my adventures at the Gaithersburg Book Festival:

If there was one author I was most excited to see at the Book Fest, it was probably Diana Abu-Jaber.  I've been a fan of this literary novelist/memoirist/thriller writer ever since I read her novel Crescent many years ago.  It's a real favorite, in part due to its depiction of the full richness of Arab (and Arab-American) culture, as well as romance, drama, suspense, comedy, tragedy--but I digress.  And I've never had the opportunity to hear her speak before.

Therefore, it was shameful that I missed her opening remarks, but there was socializing to be done.  After Ali (AKA novelist Allison Leotta) and I had chatted with Keith Donohue briefly, she introduced me to novelists Rebecca Coleman, who appeared to be out enjoying the day as we were, and Alma Katsu, who I'd met briefly at Thrillerfest and who was one of the speakers at the festival.  We were both, in turn, introduced to Eleanor Brown, who is apparently connected to the area via her parents who are local.  Anyway, all three ladies were lovely and we were still chatting away as Diana began to speak. 

Eventually, I excused myself, and joined the talk in progress in time to record Diana reading an excerpt from her most recent novel, Birds of Paradise.  What a surprise, I loved this novel!  My review may be read here.  In any case, it is that reading that is the video at the very top of this post. 

Below, are two videos of the Q & A session she did after the reading.

A note on the video.  Yeah, I know my shooting sucks.  It was very hand-held.  And most of the time I'm reasonably steady, but if there's big movement, it's a good bet that superstar puppy Maggie may have had a hand in it.  Between getting tangled in leashes and having her start eating my hair at one point, well, it can be a distraction.  But a very, very cute and forgivable one.  I'm so sorry I didn't snap a pic of her for you.

After Diana Abu-Jaber, Ali and I were supposed to head over to another tent where Eleanor was going to be having a conversation with writers Jen Lancaster and Sarah Pekkanen, but first I asked Ali if we could stop by Diana's signing line so that I could meet her.  Ali was so sweet about following along wherever I wanted to go, so we waited in line for several minutes, but it was worth it.  Diana was as nice as could be!  I think it was obvious that I'm a real fan and long-time reader.  I asked her about the Miami literary scene, because I'm considering relocating there, and she was like, "It's great!  Come on down!"  A very genuine and really lovely lady.  I'm so pleased to have finally met her; I'm just sorry that all my first-edition hardbacks are packed away.  Hopefully, there will be an opportunity to get them signed at a future event. 

Afterwards, Ali and I did go over to where Eleanor was interviewing Jen and Sarah, but the tent was packed.  After standing in the hot sun for a while, Ali was like, "Let's go back to our cool tent."  It was sort of good news/bad news in the land of literary fiction.  It was never hard to get a seat, but there wasn't the audience there was for some of the other festival offerings.  In any case, it was about time for Alma to begin speaking, and that will be the next post...

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