Authors share wit, wisdom at luncheon
by Hector Saldana, San Antonio Express-News
Whether sharing stories about a lost cat in King William, the forgotten Armenian genocide, the outrageous history of the Dallas Cowboys, the science of cooking, Ulysses Grant or reintroducing a domesticated owl to the wild, the common goal was cancer research awareness.
Authors Sandra Cisneros, Chris Bohjalian, Joe Nick Patoski, Jack Bishop, H.W. Brands and Gijsbert “Nick” van Frankenhuyzen were the star attractions at the 21st annual San Antonio Express-News Book & Author Luncheon on Monday.
The long-running literary event benefits the Phase I Clinical Research Program of the Cancer Therapy & Research Center at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
About 1,000 attended Monday’s sold-out luncheon at the Marriott Riverwalk. To date, the event has raised more than $2.8 million.
Trinity University professor Coleen Grissom reprised her role as the sardonic “Ms. Of Ceremonies,” as she has done since the program’s inception.
“If every day was like this for authors, everyone would want to be writing,” said Patoski, praising the “well-oiled event” that offers book fans face-to-face time with guest authors.
Rowena Lopez waited in line for Cisneros’ signature and inscription.
“I’ve read all of her books. It hits home for me,” Lopez said. “And this is such a wonderful way to donate to charity.”
Cisneros, whose animated readings fall into the category of performance art, was happy to oblige. Offstage, the author lovingly called “La Sandra” revealed a vulnerable side.
“You get an affirmation,” she said about meeting readers.
“Writers are basically introverts. Most of us are very shy. This is our performance.”
“Writing is purely a solitary undertaking,” Brands said. “You get no feedback. So (meeting readers), it’s very helpful. It gives you the encouragement to write again.”
Kristina Hanley weighed her purchase options, glancing at a table of books.
“The appeal is seeing the author in person,” she said. “It makes it much more personal than ordering it from Amazon.”
“It’s a big thing to see the author in person,” added Anoop Warrier, “especially when you’re gifting.”
As in years past, the audience was overwhelmingly women. Tom Payton, associate director/director of marketing and sales at Trinity University Press, says there’s a simple reason.
“Guys read books,” Payton said. “But from a publisher’s point of view, women are the absolute Energizer Bunny consumers of books.”
This year’s lineup was among the most memorable and engaging. The eight-minute time limit per author often passed too quickly and presented one of the funnier moments of the day as Nick van Frankenhuyzen watched the seconds count down as he wrapped up.
“Thirteen seconds! This is like Cape Canaveral,” he said.
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