In late August, I went to New York City for the Writer’s Digest Conference (WDC). I had never been to a writer’s conference in my life. It was amazing. Throughout my time at Susquehanna University I heard about AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs). Back in February happened in Washington, D.C. It changes locations every year, and 2017 was one of the closer ones to my base in southwest Massachusetts. In the end though, I decided not to go. I decided it would be too much. In the process though, I discovered the existence of WDC. It happens in New York, a place I grew up going to because of my maternal grandparents and uncle. WDC is smaller, there aren’t near as many people and even though there were about 1,000 people, it was definitely the best way for me to tickle the waters of writer’s conferences.
While at the conference I bought four books. I also took advantage of the Union Square branch of Barnes & Noble to get the new Philippa Gregory novel.
The first book I got at the conference was Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King. I bought it on the way out of the second day of the conference. It is the story of Apicius, a man who wants to be culinary advisor to Emperor Augustus Caesar. In order to get there, he hires a chef called Thrasius. With Thrasius’ help, Apicius finds success, and Thrasius finds a family among Apicius’s own. It’s also a story of what will happen if one is too narrow-mined with one’s goals.
On Sunday, I purchased three more: Against a Darkening Sky by Lauren B Davis, The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig, and Every Day by David Leviathan.
Against a Darkening Sky is the story of Wilona, the last survivor of her people. She is apprenticed to the healer Touilt, but everyone except the warrior Margawn views her with suspicion because of her outsider status. When the king and a monk called Egan arrive in the village, introducing the villagers to Christianity, Wilona and Touilt are put in danger.
The Other Daughter is about a young woman named Rachel Woodley, who’s working as a governess in France when news reaches her that her mother is dead. She returns to the village where she grew up to clean out her mother’s house. While doing so, she finds a photograph of her supposedly deceased father, standing with another girl about Rachel’s age. It turns out her father isn’t dead, that he’s an earl and he has another legitimate family. Furious, Rachel sets herself up in London under a new identity, with the goal of destroying her father’s life.
The third book I bought at the conference is a copy of David Leviathan’s Every Day. Because of the timing of my purchases it’s the only book I got autographed even though the rest of the authors whose books I purchased were at WDC as well. It’s the story of a person who changes everything about themselves every day: sex, age, name, location, everything. Leviathan also wrote a sequel that’s the same story, but from the other main character’s perspective. It’s always intriguing to me when authors do this. Even though I only bought the first one, I’m looking forward to reading both.
The next morning, before I left, I stopped by the Barnes & Noble in Union Square. I have been a fan of Philippa Gregory’s for years. I have all her books either in hard copies or my Kindle. She’s one of very few authors that I have done this with in my life. Her newest one, The Last Tudor, is the story of Jane Grey and her sisters Mary and Katherine. While Jane is the most famous – famous for being beheaded after being queen for nine days -, the reader also hears the story from the other two. I look forward to reading this not only because of Gregory and the time period, but because of the prospect of seeing the events from the perspective of people not much is known about. I find the idea of placing characters that not much is known about into historical fiction to be exciting. If one chooses it gives freedom in a way the author doesn’t have with someone such as Elizabeth I that everyone is familiar with.
Likely, Gregory’s book will be the first of these books to be read.