My college friend Deb Harkness came to Cleveland a couple of weeks ago, on her book tour for her #1 New York Times bestseller Shadow of Night. She was originally scheduled to appear at a branch of our local library, but so many people signed up to attend, the library moved the event to the auditorium of the high school — which was filled to capacity. Eager readers came from all over the area, other states — and at least one came from Texas!
Deb’s audience clearly loves her, which is only right, as she is incredibly brainy, wise and droll. (Case in point: We went to dinner with her the night before her appearance. As we reminisced, I said that I’d gotten so used to her being a Southern Californian — she teaches at USC — that I couldn’t recall where she was originally from; she explained that she hails from the far outer suburbs of Philadelphia — “not on the Main Line.”
|The author regrets to announce …
“Like, um … Lancaster?” I guessed.
“No, not that far out,” said Deb. “We were Amish Adjacent.”*)
Fans of her novels lined up for an hour before her reading & talk to have Deb sign their books (and for an hour after her talk, for that matter). As she began her remarks, Deb said that a boy waiting in line with his mom had asked her, “Are there any dinosaurs in your book?”
She had to tell him, ruefully …. “No dinosaurs.”
Which is a darn shame, but Shadow of Night seems to be doing pretty well without them.
P.S. It’s not too much of a spoiler to relate that Shadow of Night involves time travel back to 1600s England, where the novel’s main character discovers there is a distinct lack of modern tableware. Coincidentally, the day after Deb’s appearance, a culture-newsy web site I frequent featured this fascinating article on the history of the fork, which, it turns out, features enough drama, intrigue and whimsy to rival any novel.
*For the uninitiated, “Beverly Hills Adjacent” is a euphemism used by real estate salespeople, and the upwardly (but-not-that-upwardly mobile), to obscure the fact that a property is not actually in Beverly Hills. Eric Spiegelman notes, “If someone tells you they live Beverly Hills Adjacent, they’re selling something.”