An Evening with Steve Berry (Kinda)

As I mentioned a few days back, best-selling thriller author Steve Berry was in town as part of some Thurber House events.  I didn’t get to hang out at the reception nor was I able to attend the writing workshop but I was able to hear him speak on Friday (hence the kinda in the title).

Steve_Berry_webBerry, the author of most recently The Lincoln Myth, is a best-selling author of dozens of thrillers including the Cotton Malone series.  He is also a big supporter of historic preservation.  Berry and his wife created a foundation, History Matters, to support this passion and since 2009 have been traveling the country raising money to help the cause.

Friday’s event was also a result of this passion. Berry was part of the Evenings with Authors series with Thurber House last year and wanted to come back and help Thurber in their preservation efforts.  So they put together a reception, author event and writing workshop with all proceeds going to fund the Thurber House.

As part of this preservation focus on Friday Doreen Uhas-Sauer, from the Columbus Landmarks Foundation, gave a small talk on her background in history and preservation and its connection to James Thurber.

Berry then took the stage (he paced the stage rather than stand behind the podium) and discussed his latest book. Rather than offer a reading he discussed the historical hook and background which is the engine of his latest Cotton Malone thriller.

The Lincoln MythIt involves Abraham Lincoln, Mormons, and the issue of secession.  As a lawyer and a history buff, let a lone an author of historical thrillers, it was clearly a subject Berry found fascinating.  Equally clearly, he loves to dive into subjects and find ways to twist history just enough to create an entertaining story.

Not having read any of his books I can’t tell you how well he succeeds but judging by his book sales and the fans in attendance on Friday, quite well.

After offering some background and teasing the book he then opened it up for questions.  He talked about the writing process, what he reads for pleasure (thrillers but not much because of the lack of time and the blurbs he writes for fellow authors), Abraham Lincoln, potential TV and movie deals, and whatever else the audience was interested in.

I asked about the brouhaha over Amazon recently and he responded that it was just a supplier and distributor arguing over pricing (one side wanted a bigger cut of profits while the other was unwilling to give up more).  He was confident that it would be resolved but that the same scenario would play itself out as other publisher contracts come up for renewal. He noted that it was the author and the readers that end up bearing the brunt of the pain.

He was very relaxed and naturally engaging; clearly comfortable on stage and taking questions. Not surprising as he has been doing this all across the country for years.

It was an interesting way to get a sense of an author’s style, personality and interests.  I am sure for the die-hard fans who have read all of his books it was even more fun.

If you are in the Central Ohio area, or Ohio more generally, I encourage you to connect with the Thurber House.  They bring in a variety of authors and writers for events and workshops in addition to managing the Thurber House itself.

As luck would have it we are just entering the Literary Picnics season.  Check out the offerings this summer:

Wednesday, June 11: Scott McKenzieThe Man Behind the Nose: Larry Bozo Harmon
Wednesday, June 25: David Giffels, The Hard Way on Purpose
Wednesday, July 9: Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Fourth Down and Out: An Andy Hayes Mystery
Wednesday, July 23: Claire McMillan, Gilded Age
Wednesday, August 6: Tony Mendoza, A Cuban Summer

And if you are a fan of historical thrillers and haven’t checked out Steve Berry get crackin’ …

Friday, May 30: Thurber House Presents Steve Berry

There is still a chance to hear bestselling novelist Steve Berry this Friday, May 30.  The author of The Lincoln Myth is coming to Columbus for a special Thurber House event.  Unfortunately, the reception and master class workshop are sold out.  But you can still hear Berry read from his latest novel on Friday.  Like all the cool kids, I will be there.

Details
Who: Steve Berry, author of The Lincoln Myth
When: Friday, May 30, 7:00-8:00 p.m.
Where: Columbus Museum of Art, 480 E. Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43215

Who is this Steve Berry you ask?

Steve_Berry_webSteve Berry is the international bestselling author of thrillers with a historic twist; he has 15 million books in print in 40 languages and 51 countries. He is also deeply committed to the preservation of historic buildings—like Thurber House.

His ninth Cotton Malone adventure, The Lincoln Myth, was published on May 20. This time Malone gets involved in a flaw in the U.S. Constitution, a mystery about Abraham Lincoln, and an explosive political issue.

Friday, May 30: Thurber House Presents Steve Berry

There is still a chance to hear bestselling novelist Steve Berry this Friday, May 30.  The author of The Lincoln Myth is coming to Columbus for a special Thurber House event.  Unfortunately, the reception and master class workshop are sold out.  But you can still hear Berry read from his latest novel on Friday.  Like all the cool kids, I will be there.

Details
Who: Steve Berry, author of The Lincoln Myth
When: Friday, May 30, 7:00-8:00 p.m.
Where: Columbus Museum of Art, 480 E. Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43215

Who is this Steve Berry you ask?

Steve_Berry_webSteve Berry is the international bestselling author of thrillers with a historic twist; he has 15 million books in print in 40 languages and 51 countries. He is also deeply committed to the preservation of historic buildings—like Thurber House.

His ninth Cotton Malone adventure, The Lincoln Myth, was published on May 20. This time Malone gets involved in a flaw in the U.S. Constitution, a mystery about Abraham Lincoln, and an explosive political issue.

Carl Hoffman talks about Savage Harvest at Evenings with Authors Event

As I noted in the previous post, I was invited to attend the latest Thurber House Evening with Authors event featuring Carl Hoffman last night.  Hoffman is the author of Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art:

SavageHarvestThe mysterious disappearance of Michael Rockefeller in New Guinea in 1961 has kept the world and his powerful, influential family guessing for years. Now, Carl Hoffman uncovers startling new evidence that finally tells the full, astonishing story.

Despite exhaustive searches, no trace of Rockefeller was ever found. Soon after his disappearance, rumors surfaced that he’d been killed and ceremonially eaten by the local Asmat—a native tribe of warriors whose complex culture was built around sacred, reciprocal violence, head hunting, and ritual cannibalism. The Dutch government and the Rockefeller family denied the story, and Michael’s death was officially ruled a drowning. Yet doubts lingered. Sensational rumors and stories circulated, fueling speculation and intrigue for decades. The real story has long waited to be told—until now.

Retracing Rockefeller’s steps, award-winning journalist Carl Hoffman traveled to the jungles of New Guinea, immersing himself in a world of headhunters and cannibals, secret spirits and customs, and getting to know generations of Asmat. Through exhaustive archival research, he uncovered never-before-seen original documents and located witnesses willing to speak publicly after fifty years.

In Savage Harvest he finally solves this decades-old mystery and illuminates a culture transformed by years of colonial rule, whose people continue to be shaped by ancient customs and lore. Combining history, art, colonialism, adventure, and ethnography, Savage Harvest is a mesmerizing whodunit, and a fascinating portrait of the clash between two civilizations that resulted in the death of one of America’s richest and most powerful scions.

Interesting, right? So I headed over to the Columbus Museum of Art to catch the event.  I was prepared for a somewhat brief introduction of the book and what led to its being written followed by a reading.  But instead what Hoffman presented was more of a an audio-visual report on the work that led to the book and why he wrote it the way he did.  He presented photographs, documents, and his own video snippets to explain the story at the center of the book and his journey to tell it. In a theater setting with a large screen it was quite interesting and engaging.

Carl Hoffman Thurber
Carl Hoffman discusses Savage Harvest

Of course, the mystery at the heart of the story is pretty compelling by itself but I thought it was a creative and very engaging way to get the audience to care about the book and to better experience the story (this is the key to persuasion, BTW).  By the end of the night, you really wanted to read the book so you could fill in all the tantalizing details Hoffman purposefully left out.  Tricky, no?

It was also a very interesting perspective on the sort of immersive journalism Hoffman practices.  After his first visit to Asmat, he realized he couldn’t just drop into this culture and people and get them to tell him their secrets and history.  Not only would it not work but it wouldn’t be respectful of the people involved and their culture.  So he took a crash course in Indonesian and learned as much about their culture as he could before spending a month living with them.  It was only after spending this much time immersed in their lives, habits and rituals that he could attempt to tell their story and communicate with them, and they with him.  In a sense, Hoffman had to approach this final aspect of the mystery through anthropology first and then journalism.

This video trailer will give you a taste:

Anyone with an interest in historical mysteries, the intersection of primitive art and colonialism, or just long form journalistic storytelling should check this one out.

The Thurber House Evenings with Authors for Winter/Spring 2014

Thurber House has announced the Winter/Spring 2014 Evenings with Authors events:

Wednesday, January 29: Isabel AllendeRipper
Thursday, February 27: Claire MessudThe Woman Upstairs
Monday, March 10: J.A. JanceMoving Target: A Novel
Monday, March 31: Carl HoffmanSavage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art
Wednesday, April 9: Bruce WeberLife is a Wheel: Love, Death, Etc., and a Bike Ride Across America
Tuesday, May 6: Lynn CullenMrs. Poe: A Novel

Evenings with Authors are held at the Columbus Museum of Art, 480 East Broad Street, and begin at 7:30 p.m. The featured guest reads from his or her most recent work and chats about writing; this is followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience. Each event closes with an informal coffee and cookies reception and an opportunity to buy the author’s book(s) and get them signed.

 

Thurber House Evenings with Authors: Laurie R. King October 14

Central Ohio folks:

Thurber House Evenings with Authors

Laurie R. King

Monday, October 14

Columbus Museum of Art

7:30 p.m.

Details here.

Thurber House’s Evenings with authors Fall Season is wrapping up.  But next week’s event features bestselling mystery author Laurie R. King:

Laurie R. King, the New York Times bestselling author of the beloved Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes mystery series, turns to the vibrant and sensual world of Paris during the Jazz Age in The Bones of Paris, a brilliant and evocative stand-alone novel. It is September 1929, and Harris Stuyvesant, former agent with the U.S. Bureau of Investigation turned private investigator, is getting paid to wander the streets of Paris, scouring bars and cafes in search of a missing twenty-two year old girl from Boston. Her family became alarmed when all communication from Philippa stopped and so they hired Stuyvesant to track her down. He follows her trail, finding that she is known to many, from Hemingway to Man Ray to Shakespeare & Company’s Sylvia Beach. Then the evidence leads him to the Théătre du Grand-Guignol in Montmartre where Stuyvesant realizes that he will have to descend into the darkest depths of madness, sifting through the bones of Paris, to find a killer of monstrous depravity.

Laurie R. King is the author of thirteen Russell/Holmes novels, as well as the acclaimed stand-alone thrillers, A Dark Place, Folly, Keeping Watch, and Touchstone. She lives in northern California.

Sharon Short at The Thurber House July 10

For anyone in the Central Ohio Area be sure to check out the latest Summer Literary Picnic event:

Who: Sharon Short

When: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 7:00 pm

Cost: $30 for Dinner and Reading; $15 for Reading Only

Sharon Short:

For more than ten years, Sharon Short wrote “Sanity Check,” a column in the Dayton Daily News, covering a variety of subjects like ‘The Dog Ate My Lipstick’ or ‘Love Is a Duct Tape Purse’ – all reflecting Short’s philosophy in life: we all goof up at one time or another, so let’s deal with it with humor. The result became Sanity Check, a warm and delightful collection of these columns.  The director of the renowned Antioch Writers’ Workshop in Yellow Springs just had her first novel published, My One Square Inch of Alaska.

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