Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thursday Thoughts--Open House Notes

Woman with speech bubble 
Last Friday I spent the day at Random House for a series of panel discussions and interviews with an interesting mix of topics and guests.  The opening presentation was given by the the publishing team behind Justin Cronin's trilogy, of which the first two books--The Passage and The Twelve--have been released.  They shared their experiences acquiring and editing the manuscripts, as well as the marketing strategies used to attract readers to not one--but three--books, offering a candid, fascinating behind the scenes look at the making of a bestselling series.

Next up was an interview with chef Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster Restaurant, author of the memoir, Yes, Chef, conducted by his editor Andy Ward and Huffington Post food editor Carey Polis.  Samuelsson spoke of his ethnic heritage, how he began cooking, and the process of recalling and reflecting on the significant life events he undertook to write the book.  He recommended that everyone write a memoir as a way of looking back, even if it is for their eyes only.

Over box lunches inspired by favorite Random House cookbooks, a panel of book gurus made recommendations for titles to give as presents to various types of readers this holiday season.  Among the participants were bloggers Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness from Books on the Nightstand, which I highlighted in a previous blog post.

After lunch, Anna Quindlen was interviewed by her editor, Kate Medina.  The two discussed their relationship in the context of the many book projects they have shared over the years.  Quindlen is currently writing a novel and spoke of how she approaches fiction--she starts with a theme, and the characters and story develop from there.  She also spoke about her journalistic experiences writing the New York Times column, "Life in the 30's," and of striving to maintain a healthy work-life balance while caring for her family.

Rounding out the afternoon was Lucy Danziger, editor-in-chief at Self magazine who spoke about her recently released book, The Drop 10 Diet, sharing tips for healthy food substitutions, exercise, and general well-being.  A Drop 10 cookbook is planned.  A lively panel analysis of last month's presidential election followed, with Kurt Andersen, host of Public Radio International's "Studio 360" and author of True Believers; Charles Duhigg, New York Times reporter and author of The Power of Habit; and Emily Bazelon, editor at and author of the forthcoming book, Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy, which was featured in yesterday's blog post.

There was ample opportunity for audience questions during each session, and interspersed between the presentations were book signings by the authors. The price of admission included a choice of two hardcover books written by the authors.  Since Random House had previously sent me a copy of Yes, Chef, I chose Danziger's Drop 10 Diet and Quindlen's memoir, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake.  Call it my own personal food theme.

The event ended with a wine tasting and raffle drawings.  Definitely my kind of day.


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Thursday Thoughts--Open House Notes was originally published by Catherine for  This post cannot be republished without express written consent.

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