As I mentioned a few days back, best-selling thriller author Steve Berry was in town as part of some Thurber House events. I didn’t get to hang out at the reception nor was I able to attend the writing workshop but I was able to hear him speak on Friday (hence the kinda in the title).
Berry, the author of most recently The Lincoln Myth, is a best-selling author of dozens of thrillers including the Cotton Malone series. He is also a big supporter of historic preservation. Berry and his wife created a foundation, History Matters, to support this passion and since 2009 have been traveling the country raising money to help the cause.
Friday’s event was also a result of this passion. Berry was part of the Evenings with Authors series with Thurber House last year and wanted to come back and help Thurber in their preservation efforts. So they put together a reception, author event and writing workshop with all proceeds going to fund the Thurber House.
As part of this preservation focus on Friday Doreen Uhas-Sauer, from the Columbus Landmarks Foundation, gave a small talk on her background in history and preservation and its connection to James Thurber.
Berry then took the stage (he paced the stage rather than stand behind the podium) and discussed his latest book. Rather than offer a reading he discussed the historical hook and background which is the engine of his latest Cotton Malone thriller.
It involves Abraham Lincoln, Mormons, and the issue of secession. As a lawyer and a history buff, let a lone an author of historical thrillers, it was clearly a subject Berry found fascinating. Equally clearly, he loves to dive into subjects and find ways to twist history just enough to create an entertaining story.
Not having read any of his books I can’t tell you how well he succeeds but judging by his book sales and the fans in attendance on Friday, quite well.
After offering some background and teasing the book he then opened it up for questions. He talked about the writing process, what he reads for pleasure (thrillers but not much because of the lack of time and the blurbs he writes for fellow authors), Abraham Lincoln, potential TV and movie deals, and whatever else the audience was interested in.
I asked about the brouhaha over Amazon recently and he responded that it was just a supplier and distributor arguing over pricing (one side wanted a bigger cut of profits while the other was unwilling to give up more). He was confident that it would be resolved but that the same scenario would play itself out as other publisher contracts come up for renewal. He noted that it was the author and the readers that end up bearing the brunt of the pain.
He was very relaxed and naturally engaging; clearly comfortable on stage and taking questions. Not surprising as he has been doing this all across the country for years.
It was an interesting way to get a sense of an author’s style, personality and interests. I am sure for the die-hard fans who have read all of his books it was even more fun.
If you are in the Central Ohio area, or Ohio more generally, I encourage you to connect with the Thurber House. They bring in a variety of authors and writers for events and workshops in addition to managing the Thurber House itself.
As luck would have it we are just entering the Literary Picnics season. Check out the offerings this summer:
Wednesday, June 11: Scott McKenzie, The Man Behind the Nose: Larry Bozo Harmon
Wednesday, June 25: David Giffels, The Hard Way on Purpose
Wednesday, July 9: Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Fourth Down and Out: An Andy Hayes Mystery
Wednesday, July 23: Claire McMillan, Gilded Age
Wednesday, August 6: Tony Mendoza, A Cuban Summer
And if you are a fan of historical thrillers and haven’t checked out Steve Berry get crackin’ …