It’s been a busy couple of weeks! On October 22, I did a signing at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg, where I was joined by Tory Gates. I chatted with customers, signed books, drank excellent coffee, and got the inside scoop from Tory about outreach via radio. Also had some fun with the store signage.
Then Wade and I traveled to Mt. Desert Island, Maine, the setting for much of The Sense of Reckoning, which has as its backstory a devastating fire that occurred there at the end of October, 1947. On October 27 of this year, historian Sean Cox and I gave a talk at the Jesup Memorial Library in Bar Harbor about the fire. The library set up a great display on the topic ...
... and Sean and I feigned casualness before the event ...
For the talk, I read two excerpts from The Sense of Reckoning--one scene that takes place during the fire, and one during the fire's aftermath. Sean, an MDI local and the person who helped me get the details of the fire right, provided a fascinating historical perspective using photos, old postcards, and clippings of newspaper articles and ads.
I was nervous about whether we would be able to draw a decent-sized audience during the MDI off-season, but people started coming in half an hour before the talk was scheduled to start ... and kept coming in, with the library staff pulling out extra chairs to accommodate the growing crowd. By the time we started the talk at 7:00, there were seventy people in the audience, including some watching from the balcony that surrounds the main floor!
The talk went well, and was made even more fun by a great audience. At the end, some people who had experienced the fire and its aftermath in person shared their memories of the event. One gentleman described seeing firefighters patrolling the area where the fire started during the day, guarding against flare-ups, but recalled that they went home each night. Another audience member told of being a four-year-old and finding all the excitement quite exhilarating, although she was upset when her mother covered her with a blanket during part of their escape; she found out only later that they had driven right through the fire to reach safety. I heard another audience member relate a relative's delight at having her first experience of macaroni and cheese at one of the canteens serving the fire victims.
The conversation with the audience members continued after the talk wrapped up. The attendees seemed appreciative of the evening of information and entertainment, the library mentioned having us back for another talk (maybe next October, which will be the seventieth anniversary of the fire), and I introduced The Sense of Reckoning to seventy potential readers who are obviously deeply interested in all things MDI-related.
Next year, Sean, Wade, and I are going to go to Bar Harbor's Blaze restaurant for our after-talk drink!
Happy haunted reading!