Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Dinner Date with Death

After a lengthy break we're back, with a great post from Vroman's Assistant Promotional Director, Robyn Kamimura:

I got lucky and received an invitation to dinner with a first-time author, Derek Landy, who’d just written a new kid’s novel called Skulduggery Pleasant. Now, to be honest with you, I’d never heard of him before, and on top of that, I don’t really read too many kid’s books these days (except, of course, for the infamous Potter series and a few others in recent months), so I didn’t really know if I might actually get around to reading the book, but never one to turn down an evening with other independent booksellers and an author (not to mention a free dinner), I RSVP’d that I’d be going.

So I ended up “accidentally/on purpose” reading it. In one sitting. (The very next night.) It was one of those moments where I picked it up just to get a feel for how the beginning went with really no intention of reading the entire thing yet I found myself sucked in instantly, and let me tell you, it was hilarious! I honestly wasn’t prepared for how funny it would be. I mean, I rarely laugh out loud while reading books, let alone slip into bouts of hysterical (prolonged) laughter, but that’s exactly what happened. In fact, I was being so disruptively loud that I was banished from the living room and into the bedroom where I wouldn’t bother anyone.

To put it simply, Derek Landy turned out to be one of those authors that has the talent & skill to write incredibly funny dialogue. He writes the sort of scenes that naturally play like a movie in your head, and fittingly so, considering he’s also a horror film screenwriter whose credits include
Boy Eats Girl. But really, it’s the dialogue that makes each character’s facial expressions come to life, and when you consider the hilariously deadpanned conversations and wickedly sarcastic humor prevalent throughout the book, you’d understand how these expressions really become crucial to each moment. Plus, each character possesses a completely unique personality and voice, and with the strength of Derek’s humor and a fantastic storyline carrying each scene through to the next, it felt like I finished the novel in no time at all.

So, by the time the night of the dinner swung around, I was thrilled. I joined other Vroman’s booksellers (Steve Ross, Kris Vreeland, Conor Douglas, Amanda Barillas & Demetria Togeas) along with our wonderful Harper kid’s rep Deb Murphy, the hardworking (and very friendly) executive director of
SCIBA Jennifer Bigelow, and 8-10 other booksellers at Derek’s Bistro (appropriately named!) here in Pasadena.

Derek himself ended up being an incredibly down-to-earth, friendly, and rather softspoken guy, which made me love & appreciate the book even more! He had a relaxed, casual air about him, and his Irish accent was absolutely delightful! (Did I mention he was from Dublin, Ireland?)

It’d been after playing a bit of musical chairs with his publicist – and after a beautiful dinner that began with roasted tomato & wild mushroom soup, followed by a mouthwatering salmon topped off with a creamy bowl of rice pudding – that he landed at my table, and we were all more than happy to listen to his entertaining stories about writing the book, his research & characters, his horror film experience, and his life in general. And – whaddya know! – I found that in the blink of an eye, yet another evening with the talented and altogether pleasant Derek Landy had flown by once again, only this time I was spending it with the author in the flesh (as opposed to his dead skeleton detective, Skulduggery, and the rest of the crew from Skulduggery Pleasant).

After signing complimentary finished copies of the book for us (courtesy of Deb & HarperCollins), we were sent on our way with gift bags that included a really cool SKULDUGGERY t-shirt in exactly the shade of my favorite wardrobe color: black (which, incidentally, he happened to be wearing that night, and – what a coincidence! – so had I).

And now in the literary aftermath of having spent two nights in “Hell” (pun intended), first with the wacky Skulduggery Pleasant himself & the rest of the book’s supernatural cast, and the second with Pleasant’s creator – an altogether charming Irish fellow – I have to say that I feel the drive to really handsell Skulduggery Pleasant. If you see me at an event or around the store and you happen to ask me what my new favorite “book-of-the-moment” is, I’ll most likely say that hands down, I’ve got Skulduggery on the mind. (Plus, I can launch into an oral review of the book if you’d really like me to.)

And, Derek, if you’re reading this, “Slainte!”

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