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Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Being Karen Joy Fowler

I have been meaning to write about Karen Joy Fowler for some time now. She is the last author I saw speak at last month's Festival of Woman Authors held by the Berkeley YWCA.

When I approached Karen's table to get my books signed she seemed very familiar to me. I wondered if I had met her before, which is probably why I opened my large mouth and asked her for her email address. I think I may have gushed something like, "I have a BLOG and I often write book reviews. Is there an email address for your publisher where I can send a link to the review?"

Even though I came across like an Internet stalker, Karen was very kind and gave me her personal email address and then, as I was walking away red faced and dazed at my brazen nature, she motioned me back. "I'm interested in knowing more about blogging for a book I'm writing. What's your email address?" She said.

Embarrassment then turned into mortification when the only business cards--and I'm using this term lightly--I had in my purse were the ones I made from some Dora the Explorer playing cards of Emily's. I had written my name and URL on them with a Sharpie. Clever, huh? Either that or completely lame. But Karen smiled as she took my card. It's possible she can relate to a world where a kid's playing card can also serve as a business card; after all, she is a mom, too. Maybe that's why I felt as though I already knew her.

Anyway, Karen is a deadpan funny speaker with spot-on comedic timing. She had the room laughing from the moment she prefaced her speech with a nod to James Frey: "To the best of my knowledge these (stories) are true."

Karen has been in the publishing industry for many years. She started writing science fiction short stories, and then moved on to novels. Her first novel isSarah Canary and her latest isThe Jane Austen Book Club, which is an international best seller. It took twenty seven rejections and three years to get her first novel published. This kind of information is heartening for a newbie like me.

During the time she's been in the publishing industry, Karen has noticed a definite shift in the attitudes of New York publishers. According to her, they now recognize the fact that most readers of literature are now women. She even said that her editor once admitted that "women's book clubs are what's keeping literature alive in this country today." That got a roar of approval and a round of applause from the festival crowd.

But the one thing that Karen said in her speech is something so profound it has come up in my thoughts almost every day since I heard it: "We are living in a science fiction novel and if you haven't noticed it, look up for a second."

Since the day I met asked Karen to sign my copy of Jane Austen Book Club, I have come to realize that I actually know people that Karen knows and the degrees of separation between us have slowly dropped to one. One! There is only one person standing between me and Karen Joy Fowler! The whole situation is making my head spin just a little bit. Here is the timeline of events:

August 16, 1968. I am born.

Sometime in 2001
. I purchase a book at Green Apple Book Store in San Francisco called Sister Noon. The author is Karen Joy Fowler. I like the book. I later sell it to a used book store in Berkeley. Out of ten cartons, it is one of the few books that they purchase.

July 15, 2005. After a disjointed and random web surfing session, I find out about BlogHer '05. I sign up on a whim. I have not blogged consistently since the birth of my second child and I am contemplating going on anti depressants.

July 30, 2005. I attend BlogHer '05. During the mommyblogging breakout session, I sit next to Liz Henry. She points out that we both have Moleskine notebooks. I see her looking at notes I am taking. I worry my notes are inadequate.

August - December, 2005. I blog more. I decide I don't need anti depressants. I am less depressed. I complete NaNoWriMo. I decide that I want to become a writer.

January 28, 2006. I sign up for WoolfCamp after stumbling onto Grace's site the day she posts about WoolfCamp. I feel the hand of fate moving my mouse.

January 30, 2006. I attend the BlogHer meet-up in San Francisco. I am drawn to the mommybloggers I remember from BlogHer '05: Jo Spanglemonkey, Jenijen, Liz. I wonder if I now am cool enough to hang out with them. I decide that alcohol will make me cool.

January 30, 2006. It works! Liz invites me to Bad Ass Mamas coffee hour.

February 4, 2006. I attend the Festival of Women Authors in Berkeley after being invited by a non-blogging friend. On this day, I meet Karen Joy Fowler.

February 4, 2006. I embarrass myself in front of Karen Joy Fowler. She seems amused by this. In my copy of The Jane Austen Book Club, she writes, To Mary (calling plaintively from the nightstand) Karen Joy Fowler.

February 18, 2006. I go to WoolfCamp, where I meet Debbie Notkin. She is cool and I like her. She has some books for sale. One of the books is The James Tiptree Award Anthology 2, which she co-edited along with...

Karen Joy Fowler!

I could stop this timeline right now with Debbie being my one degree of separation between me and Karen Joy Fowler, but then...

March 2, 2006. I go to Bad Ass Mamas coffee hour and find out that Liz knows Karen Joy Fowler, too.

Amazing. Who doesn't know Karen Joy Fowler?

March 2, 2006. I remember that I want to blog about Karen Joy Fowler's talk and start writing a straightforward synopsis. My entry quickly takes on a stalkeresque quality, but I can't help myself; Karen Joy Fowler is haunting my life.

March 2, 2006. I wonder if there is a point to this timeline. Is it possible I will soon be calling Karen Joy Fowler a "friend?" What's next? Becoming relatives through marriage? Reincarnating as Karen Joy Fowler? Being Karen Joy Fowler? Is Karen Joy Fowler stalking me??

March 2, 2006. I realize I am still waiting for Karen Joy Fowler to email me so that we can discuss blogging.

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