My national book tour began a few days ago at the House of the Seven Gables, in the shadow of the masterful Hawthorne. The Lace Reader is set in Salem, and it has been embraced by the city and by the staff of the House of Seven Gables, in particular by Anita Blackaby, the executive director of the famous domicile. After reading my book, Anita emailed and invited me over for a visit. Not only did they want to help to make my book successful, but they also wanted to create a Lace Reader litera-tour so that many of the places in the book could easily be located by readers visiting Salem. And, upon finding out that my second book will be set on the same street as the Gables, Anita offered me writing space in their beautiful gardens. What a delight! I can't thank her enough.
Cornerstone Books in Salem hosted the event which took place in two parts. The first was my reading, a presentation, Q&A, and a signing. Then later, in the gardens, there was a reception to benefit HAWC, a local group that helps abused women and children, a fitting pairing since my fictional story deals with an island shelter for such victims.
The event was sold out, so Cornerstone hosted another, earlier signing. It was warm and muggy plus I was a little nervous. Ben Bruton, my publicist from William Morrow, kept me cool and calm by telling me stories of his visit to Salem, most particularly about his witnessing of a tourist attraction called Cry Innocent which is mentioned in my novel. In this guerilla theater reenactment (which runs several times a day during the summer months), Bridget Bishop (Salem's first of the accused) is literally dragged through the streets, then tried for witchcraft all over again, giving the tourists a chance to act as the jury and perhaps to change the historical outcome. On this afternoon, a particularly hot one, tourists were hard to come by, so another local actor (who was playing a fully costumed giant slurpee for a shop on the corner) tried to help, grabbing Bridget by the arm. The image that Ben created of the giant slurpee dragging Bridget down the street, while the young actress stayed in perfect period character vehemently protesting her innocence, made me laugh out loud. I realized once again why I love this place. These are my people: from Hawthorne, to HAWC, to the giant Slurpee, - what a great city!
To learn more about The House of Seven Gables, click here.
To learn more about HAWC, click here.