Thursday, October 26, 2017

An Evening with Author Jan Karon

A Dream Come True!

That sound you just know, the screaming? That's me screaming with excitement because I got to meet and spend the evening with my favorite author of The Mitford Series, Jan Karon! My friend, Sharon, and I bought tickets to this evening's event, held at Malaprop's Bookstore,  which included greeting Jan Karon, receiving a signed copy of her latest book, "To Be Where You Are," and hearing Jan talk about her life, books and writing. You will recall we attended another author talk at Malaprop's during the winter, when we met author, Helen Simonson. If you missed that post check it out here

I cannot tell you how gracious Jan was to talk with. She has the ability to make each person feel like they are the most important person she is speaking with at the moment. She put her arm around both Sharon and I without being asked. I also saw her hug many fans. We also got to meet her daughter, Candace, who was always close by at this event. That's her wearing the pretty scarf and blue earrings.

Candace, who is a photographer, readily agreed to take picture after picture of the fans with her mother. She also stayed close by making sure her mother had water to drink and assisting her with whatever she needed. When Jan was asked, during her interview segment, what her greatest accomplishment in life was, she replied having her child. It was obvious that Mother and daughter adored each other. Jan mentioned that her mother had passed away about a year and a half ago. Jan is now 80 years old, so her mother lived a very long life. She told a cute story of wanting to commemorate the anniversary of her mother's passing by doing what her mother used to do....hugging people and telling them that Jesus loves them. Jan went to a camera store to pick up prints and surprised the two clerks there with hugs and a reminder that they were loved. 

The crowd at Malaprop's was huge. When Sharon and I arrived the line was out the door and around the corner of the building stretching down the street with folks waiting to get into the event. The crowd was friendly and folks enjoyed talking while waiting to either greet Jan, get the pre-signed book or munch on the delicious snacks put out for the guests. I spoke to one woman who asked if I was from Asheville. We struck up a conversation and I learned that she and her husband had traveled from Florida for this event. They planned their Fall trip around seeing Jan Karon in Asheville. This same lady went on a bus tour a few years ago with other Jan Karon fans on the "Home to Holly Springs" tour.  Remember that book? Speaking of fans who came from far away, Jan mentioned one woman in the audience who had flown in from Paris for this event! Now, that is a die hard Jan Karon fan!!

Jan shared so many stories and snippets during her interview presentation. Some stories I had heard previously and some were new. She spoke of leaving her career in advertising at age 50 to move to Blowing Rock, NC to begin writing. But, she found herself unable to think of what to write. She describes lying awake at 2:00 a.m. when a vision of a short, overweight priest came to mind with a big black dog. Thus, Father Tim and his dog, Barnabas were born. I was impressed by her excitement in speaking about her characters, as if they were real people, and her writing style of waiting to see what the characters will do. It appears her writing is done without a set outline. 

The audience was allowed to write questions on index cards to be submitted for use during the interview and I was thrilled that one of my questions was chosen! I asked what her advice for aspiring writers would be. Her reply was both inspirational and challenging for me; "You have to put your fanny in the chair and write! Believe in yourself and pray about it. You can do it!"

What a wonderful evening I had!!  What a thrill to meet one of my all time favorite authors! And, how wonderful to find that she is just as gracious, lovely, kind and humorous as I wanted her to be!

Have you read the new Jan Karon book? Do you love Mitford as much as I do? What's happening in your life? Do take a moment to leave a comment. I so love to hear from you.

Until Next Time,


Nancy 's Fashion Style said...

That's wonderful! I know the feeling because I met, at a simular event, Karen Slaughter last summer!

Karen said...

I have read her books and really enjoy her writing! How fun that you got to meet her! I'll have to tell my mom, she loves the books also. My sister just got her the new one. I remember driving back from North Carolina in a line of really bad weather that seemed to be accompanying me home, late at night, and I was listening to a series of Jan's books on tape that my mom loaned me for the drive. It helped to keep me calm in the truly awful weather conditions and it's something I'll always remember! Thanks for sharing your exciting evening!

Sharon said...

Debbie, you captured the evening perfectly in your post! I am still feeling the afterglow of being in Jan Karon's presence. She talked a little bit about how important virtues such as kindness, warmth and love are, and she certainly displayed those virtues to her readers last night. I am eager to read her latest book.

Unknown said...

Sally Morrison would have loved this event. She was the one who introduced me to the Mitford series. I just finished reading this book and loved it as it brought back the style of her original books. Love seeing how her characters have grown. She also looks like "Cynthia" or at least how I imagine Cynthia when I read the books.

Debbie Styles Life said...

Hi Nancy: So glad you got to see a favorite author, as well!

Debbie Styles Life said...

Hi Karen:
I'm so glad you had those books on tape to get you through that bad weather drive! I have been a Jan Karon fan for years and years. She came to Asheville right after her first book was published and I couldn't go due to work. I made sure I didn't miss out this time!!

Debbie Styles Life said...

Thanks, Sharon. So glad we got to go together!!

Debbie Styles Life said...

Hi Jane: Thanks for reading!! We miss Sally so much, don't we? I didn't realize she was a Mitford fan too. I'm happy to know that you and I both like Jan Karon books!