Yesterday I attended what might be the oddest literary event I’ve ever been to. It was a combination picnic/booksigning way out in the country. Bear in mind, I live in Mississippi. When I say “out in the country” I do mean waay out in the country. Out in the “no address, just directions” part of the state. We got thoroughly lost, but in our defense I will say that the road we were supposed to turn down was missing its name marker, so you sort of already had to know where it was to find it. We never found it. We finally had to call the hostess to send a rescue party and get ourselves escorted to the site.
Part of the trip was along Old Hwy 80, which is the one I remember from when I was a kid. Back when the roads were designed for wagons and model-As and Ts. Two modern cars can barely pass each other on the concrete bridges, and then we came to an old steel bridge. I wish I had a picture, frankly, because you don’t see many of them any more. Of course, I was immediately reminded that there was a reason for that. They’re simply not adequate for modern traffic. But in a surviving spur of the old road, mostly for local traffic and the occasional load of cotton bales, it’s fine. I was pleased to see one. I was even more pleased knowing I don’t have to use it every day.
As you can see from the picture, the event was spread out a bit, mostly following the line of large shade trees. I was near the pumpkin patch (not shown). Ten minutes after arriving on site I discovered that I had to give an introductory speech, as did all the writers present. Would have been nice to get some warning, but I cheated and read part of Andy Duncan’s excellent intro to Hereafter, and After, since he said nicer things about me than I ever would. After the speeches we had the signings, which went pretty well. A lot of motivated people (they had to be, to make the trip), and I signed more books than I’d expected. As well as the local arts council, there was a local writers’ group called the Inkslingers who were present. I haven’t joined, since they meet on Saturday and that’s right out for me on most weekends, but I met some of the members, including Johnny Lowe, who does comics lettering and design (professionally). Also Alex Brown from Vicksburg, who was in charge of the “Things that Go Bump” fundraiser of last month. They’re doing another event in early December, so I’ll probably go up for that.
A combo literary event and picnic out in the middle of nowhere actually worked out pretty well. Ya never know.