Face The Fiction met last night in the Community Room of the Panera Bread Restaurant in the Ramsey Square Shopping Center to "meet & greet" author Natalie Danford. She began by discussing her 1st published novel Inheritance, which is about a woman named Olivia who discovers that her father Luigi (who had been deteriorating from Alzheimer’s disease) held title to some land in Italy, and read excerpts from her novel (she had also attempted to get a dark teenage romance novel published earlier but all the publishers passed on it). She talked about what it takes to get your novel published, the main things being persistence, having a good agent, and a willingness to be edited (and not act like a prim Donna; she keeps a file of "diva author" e-mails on her computer). She also discussed editing the Best New American Voices anthology. Lots of questions were asked until 9:50pm, when Todd shooed us out so he could restore the room to its original set-up before the place's closing time (which was 10:00pm) Thanks to Ann-Marie Brown for getting us both the location & the speaker at the 11th hour, and to Todd, Jim & Steve Spinosa, Bill Wagner, & Paul Dellechaie for assistance in setting up the room. Next month our speaker will be Dr. Kim Paffenroth, who has written a guide to the George Romero Living Dead movies. See y'all then!!!
Face the Fiction met last night in what turned out to be a truly fun night. Both the location and the speaker were fresh, new and great fun!
The Panera Community Room was very nice and provided a nice amount of privacy. Many of us grabbed food and drinks, brought them into the room and settled in for a nice time. When Jo and I arrived with the guest speaker, Natalie Danford, and her husband Paolo, the room had already been set up (thanks go to Paul, Bill, Todd, Steve, Jim), calendars had been placed on all of the seats (thanks again to Steve & Jim), and we had a roomful of eagerly waiting members (thanks to Mike P for driving Aubrey!). We had some time before our guests 8:00 presentation, so members introduced themselves and made Natalie and Paolo feel welcome (not unusual for this group. Both Natalie and her husband were friendly and fit right in! Paolo and Bill were having a nice discussion about the Strand, while Natalie was shown her book display, arranged awesomely by Todd (a coup for us, we have arrangements with Borders for off-site book events - not something extended on a normal basis). Right before the 8:00 start, Moira joined us...we were all very happy to see Moira!
Ms. Danford began her presentation with a discussion of her novel Inheritance. She not only discussed the inspirations for her story, but the ins and outs of the writing process, something of particular interest to many members. She discussed how many revisions go into a book, how you doubt your own story, and how it's important to have another person to read your work and make suggestions. It came as no surprise that Ms. Danford told us that this is something you need to be prepared for - no overnight success exists in publishing. She gave us fun little insights into the world of publishing and editing, as she not only writes, but edits and critiques. This gave her a unique pedigree and a truly unique perspective. It was funny to hear that some writers are no fun to work with and a "diva file" is out there being kept - she's taking names people, be nice! Ms. Danford then read two excerpts from her novel - as Aubrey put it "the writing was so poignant, that you recalled similar situations in your life and felt them". We all enjoyed the readings and found it funny that Natalie asked if we were bored! Bored, we were loving it! Questions were asked throughout the presentation and answered thoughtfully, fully and often in a very funny manner. You had to be there to fully appreciate Natalie's surprise at the behavior of some people trying to get published. It amazes her that anyone can think to get something they want by being pushy, manipulative and just plain old unkind and rude! It's obvious Natalie practices what she preaches, because you couldn't ask for a nicer, more generous speaker. Mike P had many questions and enjoyed telling Natalie about his writing attempts. Todd had to finally call an end at 9:50 so we could put the room back to its original state. Thanks to everyone, because everyone pitched in - no slackers here! A very special thanks also goes to Paolo (a guest!) who rolled up his sleeves and moved tables and chairs. Thanks Paolo! Natalie very kindly and humbly, signed all of the purchased books put before her. She was too sweet and couldn't believe we bought her books.
We continued the night at a nearby diner, where conversation ranged from tribute band denial (Aubrey, turning your head doesn't make it go away!), the movie 300 (Taras and his hilarious half-way reviews), bumbershoots, garden apartments with a view (thanks Liz!), reinforced cardboard (thanks Paul!), computers & preferential programs, what we're not watching on tv and the mafia.. don't ask. We finally left when reminded about the hour ahead thing. Next month brings us Dr. Kim Paffenroth who will discuss his books Gospel of the Living Dead: A Field Guide to Romero's Living Dead Movies & his new zombie novel Dying to Live. I look forward to seeing you all then. It means much to me as so much work goes into the event!
About Natalie Danford
Natalie Danford graduated from Yale University and received her MFA in fiction from New York University. Her articles and reviews have appeared in People, Health, Pages, Paste, Eating Well, Salon, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. She is series co-editor for Best New American Voices, an annual anthology published by Harvest/Harcourt that showcases emerging writers of fiction, and an accomplished translator of Italian.