Random House Open House   Leave a comment

Gretchen at RH 4-29-16

Yours truly, causing problems

Oh, what a day I had last Friday! I got to walk in the temple of literature amongst the gods. That’s right – I went to Penguin Random House.

So many distinguished authors have had the blessed fortune to be published by this institution, it’s mind-boggling. Seriously, one can’t take it all in. To wit: here’s a wall (and it’s only a partial view) of the Nobel Prize winners that have had their works published here.

Nobel Prize Wall

PRH’s distinguished and honored literary lineup

Why was I there to begin with? To ask/beg them to publish my work? Pssh. If only. No, I went with my sister and a bunch of our friends (also writers) to their quarterly open house. If you’re interested in books, writing, publishing, or just stretching your mind, it’s the best place in the whole world.

PRH presents a lineup of great writers of all genres, plus a little insider stuff. The day started off with Questlove, best known as the bandleader for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. He wrote this wonderful book entitled SOMETHINGTOFOODABOUT, a collection of essays and interviews with chefs who raise their culinary talents to the artistic level. It’s a beautiful book, full of amazing photos of food worship. I longed for a snack after gazing through its pages. He kindly autographed it.

QuestloveGretchen & Questlove

Questlove chats with his cowriter, Ben Greenman;

Gretchen gets his autograph – very nice man indeed!

 

Later on in the morning, Justin Cronin and Pierce Brown held a discussion regarding their books. Both had such camaraderie, one might think they knew each other forever. They’d only met fifteen minutes before taking the stage. Still, their engaging conversation gave writers (like me) hope that even if you have 137 rejections (like Pierce Brown did), you still might get lucky. And boy, did he ever. Justin Cronin was a college professor whose daughter, quite young at the time, told him not to write boring books.

Justin CroninPierce & JustinPosing with Pierce Brown

Autographing it up with Justin Cronin, listening to their chat (I know, bad photo) and chatting with Pierce

After lunch, two in-house art directors, Greg Mollica and Joe Perez discussed the finer points of creating a cover. They used several books for examples, some going through several dozen attempts to reach the right look. It’s really true that a book is judged by its cover, because without reading a word, you’ve got to attract the reader’s attention. My favorite story was that of Mark Maron – he’s a favorite of mine and I love his podcast. Mark loves cats. Getting a cat to cooperate proved to be an exercise in patience, as the cat wrangler tried very hard, as well as Mark, to get the cat to pose. I think we all know what comes next:

Maron Covers

Some of the shots trying to get THE shot for the cover

PRH saved the best for last: Anna Quindlen. In case you didn’t know, a New York Times columnist and NYT bestselling author many times over. She was interviewed by no less than Lee Woodruff, an author whose husband, Bob Woodruff, was a correspondent for ABC news and suffered a serious head injury in the Middle East – a story in itself. She discussed her writing process and the fact that one of her sons thought it was entirely gross that she wrote sex scenes in her books (he was a kid at the time). Fortunately, she had the best snacks on the block and all the kids hung out at her place after school.

Anna Quindlen

Anna Quindlen and Lee Woodruff, a little on the dark side

The day went by like lightning and was over far too soon. As I sat on the train, staring out at the window on my way home, reading Questlove’s book and feeling hungry, I thought to myself how lucky I was to have been in Random House, thoroughly enjoying the day. Who knows? Maybe one day my books will grace their library walls for all to see. But for now, I’m glad I went and can’t wait for the next one.

Gwen, Me & Linda at RH

Me, my sister Gwen Jones and our friend Linda Parisi

GOT Coloring Book

My souvenir for the day

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