By Barbara Falconer Newhall
Was anyone going to show up? My book launch at Book Passage in Marin county would be starting in a few minutes, and there were rows and rows of empty chairs, waiting to be filled.
The cheese platter was laid out. The wine was uncorked. And I’d practiced my little speech and the reading from Wrestling with God that I planned to do.
(I had decided to go for laughs. I would read the story about the atheist who wanted God to participate in a scientific experiment. Also the story about the Buddhist monk who tried way too hard to attain enlightenment.)
Cerridwen Fallingstar was there in the store. She’s the Wiccan priestess whose story is also included in my book. She’d be reading from her passage. But what if nobody else came? What if we have the cheese platter and the wine, and the books stacked by the cash register — and only a couple of people show up?
I’m not the only author who lives in fear of arriving at a carefully planned author event only to find that just a handful of people have come to see them. Many big publishers have stopped sending their authors on tour, partly because all that expensive travel doesn’t necessarily pay off, and partly because they don’t want their authors humiliated by a miniscule turn-out.
But on April 11, people came. They really did. And it was amazing. People turned up for this book launch from all parts of my life — college friends who still call me Barbie, three of Jon’s Marin county cousins, some writing group buddies who’ve read parts of this book many times over, a San Francisco Chronicle colleague that I don’t see nearly enough of. And people I just plain don’t know. It was magical.
Thanks, everybody. It meant a lot to me to spend the evening with you.
Another book party for Wrestling with God is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 13, at A Great Good Place for Books, 6120 La Salle Ave, Oakland, California. Come join us. There will be more wine and more cheese. We’ll celebrate.