A Different Drummer

I just finished The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones, and found it delightful, which spurred me to tell you about how I came to it.

I met Sadie Jones at the author series hosted by A Different Drummer Books. She and I and Liza (pronounced Lisa) Marklund were on the bill the same morning. We rode from Toronto to Burlington together in a car hired for the occasion. Lock up three writers from three countries in a moving vehicle for an hour and great conversation ensues.

Liza Marklund is a crime writer from Sweden. She comes from the remote and rural north. As a young single mother, she made a living as an investigative reporter in dangerous places, and then turned her hand to crime fiction as a way of dealing with social issues of particular concern to women. Her first novel in the series, featuring a hard-nosed female journalist, sold a million copies in Sweden alone.

Sadie Jones has had a literary trajectory similar to mine. Her first novel, The Outcasts, was a smash, short-listed for the Orange prize. Her second novel, similarly serious and set in the same time period (1950s) was a critical success. Her third novel is entirely different–an Edwardian ghost story with comic touches. I wasn’t sure about the first chapter, but as soon as the “uninvited” arrived, the book took off and I loved it. Like me, she has two children, with whom she was texting about homework, and we had much to say to each other on that topic.

As an aside, I would like to say that the other two women were both elegantly tall; I was a shrimp between them, at least in height, if not in spirit. Liza Marklund was tall and blonde, dressed in black, her look and speaking style dramatic; Sadie Jones was tall, dark eyed and dark haired, with a softer style that suited her quieter presentation, though just as engaging.

And then we arrived to business: authors and readers getting together first thing on a weekday morning for coffee, cakes, and the written word. I wondered at the time. Would anyone come to an event at that time?

Yes indeed. The author series hosted by A Different Drummer Books is an example of how it should be done. I’m not sure how the magic originates, but I was witness to the result. It’s held at Geraldo’s, an elegant banquet and conference centre overlooking Lake Ontario, in a bedroom suburb about 60 km (36 miles) from Toronto. The room was packed, at least 200 people attended, mostly retirees with a sprinkling of younger folk. But what a fantastic audience!

The chemistry that morning–you could feel it in the air. Every joke brought gales of laughter; every serious comment was met with intense attention. The questions were thoughtful and thought provoking. They bought books galore.

And here’s some background on this store–even more to be admired in the current economic climate, which is leading to so many closings of fine independent bookstores as well as chains.

Visitors have written in their blogs of their delight with the store “made possible through the genius of the proprietor, Mr. Richard Bachmann, a warm, witty, and very knowledgeable gentleman indeed. He is a man who cares about books, literature, publishing…Richard Bachmann retired in February 2010, selling the business to longtime employee Ian Elliot, who is himself well known to publishers and customers, and passionate about continuing the Different Drummer tradition.

(Via Norma Lundberg.)

Ian was an intelligent host, whose introductions clearly came from his personal knowledge of, and interest in, the authors’ work. He handed me The Uninvited Guests, for which I’m still touched and thankful. And now the pics (click to enlarge).

First the view:

The author and her books!

The book table:

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”–Henry David Thoreau.

3 thoughts on “A Different Drummer

  1. I’m so glad you enjoyed this! It’s on my wish list and I hope to read it this year (that’s very soon for me!). And what a great event! How wonderful to be part of such a sparkling discussion with genuine book lovers. The venue looks so elegant – as do you!

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