April 10, 2010

Lunch with Author Robert Goolrick

Okay, so I didn't actually have lunch with him. I sat in the audience and ate while he talked and it was so entertaining! YD and I went to Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe yesterday for an author's luncheon. Robert Goolrick discussed and read from "A Reliable Wife," currently number five on The New York Times Best Seller List. Here's a one minute video clip of Goolrick talking about the premise of this novel (sorry the picture quality isn't great):

"A Reliable Wife" is actually the first book he wrote, but his second published. According to Goolrick, his agent had sent it around to various publishers without any luck. Then he wrote his memoir, "The End of the World As We Know It," and Algonquin bought it in a week. He revisited Reliable with Algonquin, who then published it. Due to the state of publishing today, he feels that it's easier to sell a memoir than a first novel by an unknown author.

Here are some of the comments he made as audience members asked him questions ...

  • It's a story about bad people who become better people.
  • Regarding desire and sex as you age: When you're 30, you think by the time you're 40, it's all over. Then  you wake up at 45 and realize it's not over at all.
  • When an author is reading his work to people, it allows him to show the pace in which he meant it to be read.

  • He was an English major in college. Born in Virginia and raised in an old southern family ... drinking bourbon and telling anecdotes.
  • He writes the way he talks and believes storytelling should be as if you were having a conversation over dinner with someone.
  • His grandmother loved Charles Dickens and Jane Austen and he first read their books so he would have something to talk about with her. Then he came to love them as well, and learned from them.

  • On writing a novel: After a few months of torture, it clicks. Took him approximately 8 months to write Reliable. In the beginning, he worked in short spurts. He recommends going to bed while you still have something to say so that you have a diving point in the morning.
  • The story line in Reliable was based on a mythological story that ended badly for all (Phaedra, Theseus and Hyppolitus). Goolrick wrote hoping for a greater sense of redemption for his characters, "but you can't save everyone!"

  • Regarding the title, "A Reliable Wife": This book has been translated into French, but they had a difficult time with the title and ended up calling it "A Simple, Honest Wife," which he thought was funny because the French think the concept of a simple, honest wife is inconceivable.
  • He praised independent bookstores like Changing Hands for supporting new authors.

As he signed my book, I thanked him for coming to Arizona from New York and told him that I enjoyed his talk very much. He smiled sweetly and said, "And you got a sandwich, too!" ;-)

Since I haven't actually read the book yet, I'll have to post about it later. However, the book jacket description reads ...

He placed a notice in a Chicago paper, an advertisement for a "reliable wife." She responded, saying that she was "a simple, honest woman." She was, of course, anything but honest, and the only simple thing about her was her single-minded determination to marry this man and then kill him, slowly and carefully, leaving herself a wealthy widow. What Catherine Land did not realize was that the enigmatic and lonely Ralph Truitt had a plan of his own.

Doesn't that sound exciting?


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