What Do NYT Best-Selling Authors Have in Common? (Or, How Surreal is This?)

The Salem Lit Festival was this past weekend and yours truly got to go.  It was a fabulous event that managed to be both high-powered and intimate.  The panels were smart and informative and well run, and down the street there was a brand new candy shop.  I listened to Julia Glass and Brunonia Barry and my new favorite author Katherine Howe talk about writing strong female characters, and then I meandered a few buildings down and bought a mango chili fruit slice.  (I should have bought more.)

On my way back, I saw Joshilyn Jackson, who was blinking in the late afternoon sun like a baby owl, so of course I immediately accosted her, because of the enormous fangirl crush I have on her.  She looked a little panicked for a second, then graciously invited me to have coffee with her.  Since my hands were already shaking just a teensy bit, I decided to forgo the caffeine and in true New Englander style have a raspberry lime rickey.  Brunonia Barry joined us with her husband and friend, and they sat around discussing dialects and the fact that I apparently swallow my consonants when I speak.  If you are a writer or a reader in any way shape or form, you totally get based on those last two sentences that for a moment I was completely convinced I was dreaming.

Joshilyn spoke at the author’s dinner that night, and the entire crowd was completely mesmerized.  (Joshilyn does not swallow her consonants.  She lives in Georgia, and they go on for a country mile.) The table I was at was madly in love with her, when they weren’t crushing on Erin Morgenstern, who I have been crushing on for years because of her Flax Golden tales, which I have repeatedly advised you to read.  If you’ve ignored my advice, you are still in luck, because she’s written a little book called The Night Circus which debuted at something like number two on the NYT best-seller list. (That would be writerly irony right there.) Hop it and get a copy.

So there I was, surrounded by all these best-selling authors, and it occurred to me — damn, they’re all tall.  Erin is a petite little thing, and even in heels I barely made it to her ears.  So, I checked under the table, and sure enough, she was wearing a pair of ginormous boots.  Joshilyn Jackson at the podium? The same. (In the interest of full disclosure, I  did not check Brunonia Barry’s feet.)

It may have been that I was under Salem’s spell, but truly, I’ve decided I need a pair of these.  For the sake of my writing.  Really. 

Liz Michalski


  1. Vaughn Roycroft on September 27, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Gotta love those boots! I called my wife in to ogle them. She called them ‘dreamy,’ FYI. What sounds dreamy to me is your experience in Salem. But now all I can do is imagine what ‘swallowed consonants’ sound like. For some reason, it seems kind of weird I’ve never heard your voice. Here in the greater Chicago area we’re accused of slaughtering our short vowels. Especially short ‘a’; car and cat often being singled out for ridicule. Only true South-siders talk like the SNL ‘Da Bears’ guys, but I have neighbors from Chi-town who use ‘d’ instead of ‘th’.

    So glad you had a great conference! I’m going to one someday! Can’t wait to read Night Circus.

    • liz on September 27, 2011 at 12:27 pm

      Sadly, my pocketbook calls them “too expensive.” : )

      I don’t have a true MA accent — I don’t think – but I do tend to talk fast and low. It was funny hearing how Miz Jackson’s voice got more southern as the night went on.

      You’ll love Night Circus — and I hope to see you at a conference someday soon!

  2. Brunonia Barry on September 27, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    In my defense, I wasn’t one of the people who accused you of swallowing your consonants. I am pretty certain that if you were swallowing, so was I. It was great to sit with you, and I hope to get together soon. Lime Rickeys in Salem at Halloween? Now that would be an adventure.

    So glad you liked the Lit Fest. I loved it.

    • liz on September 27, 2011 at 10:48 pm

      Maybe hot chocolate at Christmas? Halloween might be too crazy for me, although I’m dying to go and get my tarot cards read … on the other hand, we could try spiking the rickeys…

  3. Jan O'Hara (Tartitude) on September 27, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    I’m so glad you wrote this up, Liz, because I hoped to live vicariously through you. This isn’t *quite* as good as being there, but it helps.

    As for those boots, they’re gorgeous but I can picture my engineer-husband’s bug-eyed face each time I pulled them from the closet. On the other hand, maybe I should order a pair…

  4. liz on September 27, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Maybe we could order together and get a group discount? I have it on excellent authority that they last forever …

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