A few weeks ago, on the evening of February 6th, I celebrated the publication of my new novel, Hooperman: A Bookstore Mystery, at Books Inc., a fine independent bookstore in Palo Alto, California. I made a few remarks, read four short passages from the book, answered questions from the audience, and signed books.
This was a thrilling rite of passage for me, as successful book signings always are. It was a sentimental occasion, too, for a number of reasons. It was a joy to read from, talk about, and sign copies of a book that celebrates the joy of bookselling and my fondness for the Midpeninsula area where I lived for twenty years. It so happens that my novel, Hooperman, takes place in a Palo Alto bookstore in the summer of 1972. It also happens that during the 1970s I worked for a fine independent bookstore, Kepler’s Books and Magazines, just up the road from Palo Alto. And although the bookstore in my book, Maxwell’s Books, is fictitious, I can’t deny that it closely resembles the Kepler’s Books I remember so fondly.
Another sentimental connection: I graduated from Stanford University in December 1964, nearly 50 years ago. My very first job out of college was to help out during Christmas rush at the Peninsula Bookshop, a bookstore I already knew and admired. That job lasted only two weeks, but it got me started working for bookstores on the Midpeninsula. By coincidence, the Peninsula Bookshop (which years later went the way of most independent bookstores and closed its doors) was located only a few doors from the current location of Books Inc. So appearing right there seemed to close a circle for me.
The most meaningful sentimental feeling I got from that evening was pleasure of seeing friends. The house was packed. There were a number of old friends and fellow Kepler’s alumni, people I had worked alongside in the 1970s. There were also a couple of classmates from my years as a Stanford undergraduate. My favorite teacher, Nancy Packer from the Stanford Creative Writing Program, was there. Also present was my Partner in Crime, Meredith Phillips, whom I’ve known since were teenagers in Dallas, back in the 1950s. Several authors whom Susan and I have published in recent years came to the reading. Not only that, but my son Ben, and his wife, Anne, and their three children showed up. I can’t overstate the thrill I felt to be in the company of new friends, old friends, and family for this milestone evening. There were also some unfamiliar faces in the audience, and their smiles warmed me too.
I’ll close by saying I believe Hooperman: A Bookstore Mystery to be worthy of all the attention it got that gratifying evening. I’m fond of this book, probably because it’s all about the joy of bookselling, the nobility of independent bookstores, and the absolute wonder of that remarkable invention: the book. It also combines a couple of love stories and tosses in a crime to be solved.
To learn more about Hooperman: A Bookstore Mystery, check out this page: http://www.danielpublishing.com/jmd/hooperman.html