Writer’s Dinner Table Crowded with Characters

Mystery writer Emyl Jenkins won’t have much time in February for writing as she’ll be busy giving talks on the topic throughout Virginia, Alabama and Georgia.

“I need to clear the decks and just write,” she said.

Emyl, who has written Stealing with Style and The Big Steal, says her characters are so much fun, “It’s like having dinner with so many people.”

If she’s not writing or giving talks, then she’s busy managing her Facebook and Twitter accounts. Both allow her to secure speaking engagements and interact directly with her fans, but at a price. “When are we supposed to write?” she muses. “There’s just so much to keep up with.”

She’s also begun a blog for her publisher.

And what about reading and reflecting, which Emyl says also are important for the writer. She says that she can tell some writers don’t have time to do that. “I’m finding in some books that characters are wooden or shallow and that plots are thin or pushed,” she says. 

Publishers are pushing writers to churn out a book every 12 to 18 months. Writers also don’t have time to sit back and reflect, “to think about what their characters want to say,” Emyl says.

Despite the challenges, Emyl is hard at work on her next Sterling Glass novel. No publication date has been set but her dinner table has been crowded with all her characters.

 “I’m fortunate,” she says. “My publisher [Algonquin Books] gives me the time I need.”

Library of Virginia Announces Winners

Adriana Trigiani hosted last night’s 12th annual Literary Awards at the Library of Virginia. As always she was engaging and humorous, connecting everyone. It’s always great fun to see her. She’s  a wonderful author who gives back so much to the book world. By the end of the evening, everyone would be conversing via Facebook. And only she could get by with calling Roger Mudd “eye candy.”

He was the winner of the People’s Choice Award in nonfiction for his “The Place to Be: Washington, CBS, and the Glory Days of Television News.” The fiction winner was Martin Clark’s “The Legal Limit.”

The gala event was great fun and many Virginia Press Women members attended, including Nancy Beasley, who was a nominee in 2006 for “Izzy’s Fire.” I hope to see Julie Campbell, who is writing a book about the horse in Virginia as a future nominee. Her book is slated to publish this spring.

VPW member Emyl Jenkins, whose latest book is “The Big Steal,” presented the fiction award to Domnica Radulescu for “Train to Trieste,” which tells the story of a young woman’s quest for freedom and shelter in Soviet-dominated Russia during the late 1970s.” Domnica is a professor at Washington & Lee, where Julie also works. The world of authors is small.

Other winners included Annette Gordon-Reed who won the nonfiction prize for “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family.” Lisa Russ Spaar won the poetry prize for “Satin Cash.” The Weinstein Poetry Prize went to Eleanor Ross Taylor and Charles Wright. The Whitney and Scott Cardozo Award for Children’s Literature was awarded to Doreen Rappaport for “Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln.”

Other VPW members attending included Mary Martin, George and Frances Crutchfield, Sharon Baldacci

Literary Awards

Julie Campbell, Cynthia Price, Adriana Trigiani, Nancy Beasley attend the Library of Virginia Literary Awards.

 and Jann Malone, who also served as a judge.

The Literary Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to John Grisham. He writes a novel a year and all of them have become international best sellers. There are currently more than 235 million of his books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 29 languages. His first book, however, he sold from the trunk of his car going to libraries statewide.

Libraries were an underlying theme throughout the evening. Most everyone shared their experiences of when they received their first library card. Grisham, whose family moved frequently, considered a town small time if you were only allowed to check out two books at a time. A good library would allow five.

Books, of course, were the focus, but what of their future? Grisham asked what would happen if the Kindle gained in popularity. Would holding a book, cracking it open and turning the pages go the way of the Internet? It was a weighty question and one that no one in this crowd truly wanted to contemplate.

After all, is there anything greater than opening the cover of a new book eagerly anticipating the discoveries within the pages? It’s magical and that’s what makes the Library of Virginia’s Literary Awards magical.