Tuesday, April 15, 2008

On the Launch Pad

Sharon Wildwind

Tonight at 7:00 P.M., at the Mysterious Bookstore in New York City, something wonderful happens. Our own Elizabeth Zelvin, launches Death Will Get You Sober. If you’re in the New York area, drop by. If you’re not in the area, as unfortunately I’m not, join me in sending cyber-congrats to Liz.

A book launch is very much like a christening. All the hard work of the labor-and-delivery is over, all the hard work of raising the baby is ahead, but today it’s party time.

Recently I was invited to a christening for the daughter of a woman with whom I work. Her daughter has been born into a culture that truly believes it takes a whole village to raise a child. This fortunate little girl has over 50 godparents, some of them present in the church for the christening, some of them far away in the tiny village where the parents lived before they immigrated to Canada.

I don’t know what it’s like in other parts of the literary world, but those of us who write in the mystery genre, come from that kind of a village, too.

I think one of the reasons that mysteries continue to have a solid sales record, even in a time of declining reading and a tough economy, is that each one of us cares about the other getting it right.

Some of you may be familiar with Tom Clancy’s book, The Hunt for Red October. The way the red banner northern fleet pursued the submarine, Red October, is nothing compared to the way mystery writers pursue information for one another. Want to know how to blow up a car? The rules for Federal Marshals carrying guns on airplanes? How about, a prescription medication that will make Great Aunt-Matilda appear ga-ga? All you have to do is ask.

If no one has the answer, they immediately invoke the six-degrees-of separation, as in, “My husband’s, uncle’s, best friend’s, next-door neighbor works for the F.B.I. Do you want me to put you in touch with her?” And then there are the research stories. My personal favorite involves repeatedly stabbing a thawing turkey carcass to determine how difficult it is to insert a stiletto between two ribs.

The degree to which we support one another is truly amazing. We not only read one another’s books, but make a point of asking booksellers and librarians why they aren’t stocking other authors. We form book signing tour groups and blog groups—like this one—to promote one another’s work. We care about who’s sick, who has a new grandchild, who is going through a rough patch, who is due for cyber-champaign, dark chocolate, and dancing on the tables in celebration.

So, come five o’clock tonight, my time, I’ll be dancing on the table for you, Liz. Hope you have a great time!
Writing quote for the week:

If you drop a dream, it breaks.
~Denise Dietz, mystery writer


Darlene Ryan said...

Since I can't climb on anything at the moment I'll be doing my best shimmy for Liz on the couch.

Lesa said...

Congratulations, Liz! I wish you all the luck in the world, along with birthday wishes. Happy Birthday, and have a great book launching party!

Kaye Barley said...

Liz - Congratulations and all the best!!
Happy Birthday and Happy Launch.

Sandra Parshall said...

I hope this has been -- and will continue to be, right up to midnight -- a fabulous evening for our sister Liz!

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Thanks and hugs to all of you. Sharon herself is one of the most supportive--I've been cheered by an e-card from her on occasions of triumph or exceptional discouragement. And when I got to the Mysterious Bookshop tonight, there was a gorgeous array of flowers, with a flower shop card saying they came from "Charon." Mysterious indeed: I couldn't imagine why the ferryman of the River Styx would send me flowers--and then light dawned and I said, "Ohhhh, it's my blog sister Sharon!" Thanks soooo much, Sharon!
The party was terrific: 60 people, good food, everybody sang happy birthday to me, and I signed lots and lots of books. :)