Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Meeting Author Helen Simonson at Malaprop's Bookstore

An Evening To Remember


Guess what famous author came to Asheville last evening? If you guessed Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, then you guessed correctly. You will remember that I recently reviewed Major Pettigrew in a recent post. If you missed that post, you can read it here. It was an evening to remember as my friend, Sharon, and I got to hear Helen Simonson speak. The author was then gracious in signing my copy of Major Pettigrew and also posing for pictures with Sharon and me!



In my post about Major Pettigrew, I mentioned that Helen had written another book called, The Summer Before the War. Yesterday was the release day of the paperback version of this book and that was the book Ms. Simonson was promoting and talking about during her presentation. It was lovely to hear her soft British accent and humorous stories of getting started "late" in life as a writer. Having been a stay at home mom, after a career in advertising, Helen decided to work on an MFA in writing.  Major Pettigrew began as a short story written for one of her classes and then developed over a five year period into her final Master's thesis for her degree. When her husband lost his job, Helen thought she would be re-entering the world of advertising rather than continuing on as a writer. She was surprised (and thrilled) when an agent contacted her via email telling her that she wanted to work with Helen to promote Major Pettigrew which was then published by Random House. 



I found Helen to be inspiring as she shared her story of her early forays into writing. Using humor and honesty in a self-deprecating style, Helen spoke of going to a writing class at a local Y in Brooklyn in order to further enrich her life beyond diapers and baby classes. Although she had loved writing as a teenager, she did not "see" herself as a writer and was in awe of others who did pursue the craft. This first writing class gave her the "permission" she needed to see herself as a writer and to go forward with the whole process of becoming an accomplished author. Her stories of critiques from writer's groups and editors as well as all of the challenging and interesting research needed to write books such as Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and The Summer Before the War gave an honest account of the joy, work ethic and tenaciousness needed to be a writer.  


It was an evening to remember, for sure, and one that gave me further inspiration to continue to work hard at my own writing goals. Thanks, Sharon, for finding out about this event! Helen Simonson shared that she is in the first steps of writing another book right now, so we can look forward to hearing more from this talented author!

Until Next Time,
Debbie

6 comments:

Karen said...

What fun! I still haven't had a chance to start this book (MP), but it is on my wish list at Amazon! The other one sounds interesting too.

Deborah Ross said...

It was fun, Karen. This was my first adventure in going to an author reading and I truly enjoyed it!

nancy baten said...

That is fantastic! A book is already such a present ,but when it's signed even more!

Laura Jones said...

Thanks for sharing your fun evening, Debbie. Your post is a reminder to me to be more intentional about getting author dates on my calendar. I always enjoy meeting and hearing the authors at Malaprops

Sharon said...

Wow, Debbie, you captured the essence of the evening and the retelling of Helen Simonson's life as an author beautifully! It was a lovely event.

Katherines Corner said...

How Fun!! xo