I was nervous there would be my dad and daughter only, in attendance, but my reading at Braun Books in Cedar City was amazing! Summers in Cedar City, Utahns know, means the Shakespeare Festival. So arrived into a town and scene already pulsing with the love of words and stories and live performance.
Did this reality make me want to sink my head into my shell when I realized I was reading to an audience full of actors and critics? YEP. It did. Because while I’ve always been complimented on my reading style and I know I bring a lot of energy to a reading, I am, actually, not a Yale or Oxford or what-have-you-trained performer like most all other people on stages in Cedar City are.
Luckily the festivalgoers who came to my reading were forgiving. And related to me, if not by blood, by deep friendships. My aunt, the actress Sallie Cooper, brought her five friends who make the yearly trek to the festival — including a long lost friend of my own, Jim Martin — to the store. One of my mother Helen’s oldest friends, the brilliant theater critic Nancy Melich, was also in Cedar, working at the festival. She and her family all came. Megan, the new owner at Braun Books brought in a number of her own friends, too, and some writers from Cedar City. She also went out of her way to make the event a good one — she had sandwiches and strawberry water and cookies!
As with the reading at Brazo’s, my favorite part of the event was the Q&A. I think this is because — as I said in answer to one of Megan’s questions in the Q&A — I spent years writing and rewriting the novel. Then I was hunting for agents and publishers and then marketing it. During all this process, somehow, I hadn’t thought much about the book itself. I don’t think I’ve had a long discussion about this draft of the novel with anybody. I don’t know what people think or what they like or what I missed. The Q&A is the place I get to take a breath and philosophize and be proud I’ve written a novel.
A last lovely side of the Braun reading was that Lila met a little friend: Cam, whose mother worked at the bookstore. The Thursday after the reading the girls reunited and played for hours, and hopefully, they’ll be pen pals. Later in the evening Lila got to see her first play: Moliere’s Scapin — a pretty baudy play that went almost entirely over her head. Luckily it was bright, and the actors were phenomenal, and she loved it anyways. So did my dad, by the way — said it was the best play he’d ever seen.