For the second year in a row, seven CWC members, including myself, were invited by former CWC-NorCal leader Carole Bumpus to attend the 35th National Kidney Foundation Authors Luncheon on October 28. Over 500 readers, writers, and booklovers met at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco to listen to four best-selling authors. Inspiring talks by those affected by kidney disease helped raise over half a million dollars for kidney transplants. Retired KQED radio host and author, Michael Krasny interviewed four best-selling authors about their writing processes, revealing many surprises.
Lee Child, author of the 26 thrillers in the Jack Reacher series, revealed where the last name of his protagonist came from. His shorter-statured wife suggested it when she was asking him to get something down from a shelf. Mr. Child is retiring from writing this year and his brother, with whom he has co-written, will take over the Reacher series.
Anita Gail Jones writes about life in the South and founded the Gaines-Jones Education Foundation, offering scholarships to Black students in Georgia and the San Francisco Bay Area. Her latest book, a finalist for the PEN/Bellweather Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, is titled The Peach Seed.
Lauren Groff is a three-time National Book Award finalist and a New York Times best-selling author whose latest book, The Vaster Wilds, takes place in colonial times and tells the story of America in miniature. Earlier novels have won the Story Prize and the Joyce Carol Oates Prize. Her work regularly appears in The New Yorker and The Atlantic.
Graphic novelists Mac Barnett and Shawn Harris skipped the Krasny interview and did a skit where, accompanied by music, they read parts of their graphic novel The First Cat in Space and The Soup of Doom. Mac Barnett has written children’s books that have been translated into 30+ languages. Shawn Harris is a distinguished author-illustrator and was sited as the artist for a Time magazine Best Children’s Book.
Everyone present was gifted the authors’ featured books and stood in long lines to get them signed. Liam Mayclem of CBS, an award-winning broadcast journalist was master of ceremonies. My take-away: authors have interesting lives and it helps to have prominent fellow CWC members as friends.
Evelyn LaTorre is a memoir writer living in Fremont, CA.