Thursday, April 01, 2010

HNT - FlashBackward

I had the distinct pleasure of hosting Robert J. Sawyer in my bookstore last night for the kick-off of the 10 city book tour he's doing for his latest novel, WATCH. We not only had a full house (all chairs occupied with half a dozen people standing) of fantastic customers with some great questions for Rob, but, as expected, he was a fascinating speaker.

Rob talked about the WWW series (WAKE is now in mass market paperback, WATCH just came out in hardcover, and Rob is going to be finishing the first draft of WONDER in the next week and it'll be out next year), about the experience having one of his novels (FLASHFORWARD) being adapted into a television series, read a short scene from WATCH and then answered questions.

We broadcast the entire event in a live feed to the internet, and had 66 people "tuning in." (The event has been recorded and will be pushed out to the internet so that people who are unable to see Rob during his book tour can enjoy hearing him speak -- that being said, NOTHING beats the in-person experience, but if you're unable to, at least you can still benefit from the talk he gave at McMaster)

In all, a very successful, very fun event. I heard customers and staff talking about how great a speaker Rob is and how he could talk about anything (indeed, if someone in the audience asked a question, he was able to address it and keep everyone spellbound with his charm -- he is not only a brilliant storyteller, but he is also a gifted speaker)

Rob was also very kind when he explained why he chose Hamilton and Titles Bookstore for the world-launch of WATCH. He talked about the importance of booksellers who support authors and pointed out that I'd been very supportive of his novels for well over a decade, talking about him to customers and hand-selling his books. He wanted to show his thanks by doing the launch at my bookstore.

I think what Rob might not realize is that I'm not really helping HIM when I talk to customers about his books and recommend one of his novels to a customer. When I do that I'm doing a huge favour to the customer -- because I only recommend a book if it's something I'm truly passionate about and if it's something I believe they'll enjoy. And, given the range of fantastic novels he has written, it's easy to find something that I know people will enjoy, particularly people who believe they wouldn't like science-fiction. Because, while Rob's novels are all grounded in real science (with a slight speculative twist), they're always about people first. And within the realm of the great books he has written, I know I can find something that a customer will like (yes, even those reluctant to read in the speculative realm)

In any case, I was reminded of the fact that the last time I had the pleasure of hosting Rob for a book event in Hamilton, I was working at the Chapters in Ancaster, and he was doing the book tour for FLASHFORWARD. (And since that novel predicted the advent of POD machines in bookstores, like the Espresso Book Machine that sat about 50 feet away from where he did his talk, I made a point of asking Rob for more predictions as to what I might be doing in another 11 years.)

And for HNT, I found an old photo from really close to that time-frame which was taken back in 1997 or 1998 when I hosted an afternoon of readings from Canadian science fiction authors called "Sci-Fi Saturday."

Left to right: David Shtogryn, Edo van Belkom, Carolyn Clink, Robert J. Sawyer,
Douglas Smith, Andrew Weiner, Mark Leslie, Sally Tomasevic, Marcel Gagne

Wow, now THAT takes me back.

UPDATE: Via this blog's autofeed as a note into Facebook, Rob Sawyer appended a note that the date this picture was taken was July 25, 1998.

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