A gazillion words ago, I was in Oxford, Ms. for the annual Conference on the Book, which is one of the best book conferences in the nation, you should go, really, go. If nothing else, go because Oxford is just a great place to hang out. Take a beer over to Faulkner’s grave and sit a spell, the way I did with Tommy Franklin and some other writers who tell scary stories after midnight. Tommy’s stories are scary in broad daylight, truth be told.
Or go find my photo hanging on the wall at Square Books. I’m sure it’s there somewhere. They’ve got the photos of every author who ever signed there. Or at least that’s what somebody told me.
The first time I went I met Barry Hannah, Padgett Powell and John Berhendt. I didn’t have a book out, yet, but I was working on one. Barry was the biggest encourager a would-be-author could ever hope to find. And Padgett Powell, he was hilarious. He and Barry spent a lot of time talking cars. Berhendt couldn’t really talk cars. He said he lived in New York City and had a driver. Those Mississippi locals looked at him with one eyebrow arched after that. You could tell they don’t trust people who don’t know their way under a hood.
The next time I went to the Conference on the Book, I went as a speaker and author of my very own book. That book was published by one of them swanky New York houses. It was fun, being back in Oxford and meeting all sorts of new people.
People like John Green. Green’s wonderful book, Looking for Alaska, was just out. I can’t begin to tell you what an absolutely nice guy John is, you’ll have to take my word for it, but here’s something I do remember about John. He was getting ready to ask his girlfriend to marry him, so he asked all us authors to write a note convincing her why she ought to marry John.
John and his brother Hank do a video blog. You might have even heard about them on NPR.
Or maybe at Dean’s Deli.
Or maybe you don’t have a Dean’s Deli or a radio, so perhaps you’ve never heard of John Green and his brother Hank. If that’s the case, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to John, one of the truly nice people in publishing, which is actually full of really nice people and a few with major personality disorders, but in the Spirit of Christmas, we’ll just pray for those few.
John’s got a new book coming out. He’ll tell you all about it, so pay attention. I’ve got a new book coming out in 2012, too, although, I’m not sure John knows about it. But I’m getting all obsessive about errors in the new book.
If you think Santa checking his list twice is a bit OCD, you don’t want to be around me right now. When you put out a 362 page book, it’s (notice I used it’s the right way) easy to obsess over every sentence, every fact, every quote. (I just had to check that sentence four times).
Anyway, John explains that even though we writers might be neurotic about our mistakes, they still happen: