In March earlier this year, I was very lucky to be able to go see David Mitchell read from Cloud Atlas and speak about his upcoming (at the time) novel. I kept meaning to blog about it, and here I am, two weeks after devouring The Bone Clocks and still thinking fondly of this author. It's time to share that experience.
Because of a generous endowment, the University of South Carolina has a spring author series called The Open Book. They bring in five authors, many of them huge names. On the Monday of that week someone from the university or some other scholar gives a lecture, and on Wednesday, the author appears. I can't drive all the way to Columbia from Greenville more than once in a week, so I sadly have to miss the lectures, but the authors are highly worth it. (I'm sad at the thought of not getting to see Nikky Finney lecture on the poet this next spring, so I might make an exception to drive down twice that week.) David Mitchell came in March, and was the only author I got to see this last spring. Next spring, I am better planning my weeks to work around the occasional Wednesday afternoon.
One thing I want to say about David Mitchell is that he is SO charming and friendly. Sometimes I regret going to see an author speak, because their reality is so far from my expectations or beliefs about them. He was friendlier and had an obvious love of the writing and the reading that had gotten him there. He was also excited about his upcoming book and answered some questions about it too.
I discovered a colleague after the talk, while those of us wanting our books signed stayed behind. I stayed back in line with him because he had more books than anyone. This meant I heard David Mitchell talking for two hours by the time I spoke to him, and when I did, I accidentally did it in an accent similar to his own. This happens to me sometimes. Whoops. He asked my name for the first book, I said Jenny, and he said, "My Grandmother's name is Jennifer," and whatever I said in response made him perk up and ask if I was English. I apologized and said that just happens. Ha.
I brought two books along to be signed - Cloud Atlas and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. He signed and drew pictures, so lovely! It was a great author visit, and I wish I could see him after reading The Bone Clocks, because I have questions. Hopefully one of these days.