Goodnight, Irene

Seven years ago, give or take, Isabel took aim at Baltimore. Now it’s Irene. I’m leaving town, but only because I have an event in Pittsburgh that is beautifully timed — I’ll head out before the storm arrives, I’ll return after it’s over. Fingers crossed, the forecasters are right about the timing, but wrong about the storm’s potential for destruction along the Eastern seaboard.

These two “I” storms provide a nice moment for reflection — on the week, on the last seven years, on the ten years since this website launched. I’ve had a decent publication week, two events, six interviews. (It would have been seven, but the earthquake forced Bill Thompson to cancel.) As noted yesterday, I’ve received lots of review coverage, which is increasingly rare for writers.

In the final interview, for the Washington Post Magazine, I was asked when I considered myself a success. My impulse, which I choked down, was to say I didn’t consider myself a success. It’s true, but it would have sounded disingenuous. We have a saying in our house: No one lives inside his success. Whatever you’ve achieved in your career, it’s external, not really part of one’s identity or daily life. It doesn’t protect you from anything or cushion many blows. That’s why the three shelves above my desk, the ones filled with my books, are also littered with family photos and personal mementoes. 

But . . . I left The Sunten years ago this fall to write full-time. So I would have to say that was the moment I considered myself a success. I was a novelist, I paid my bills by writing fiction. It was all I ever wanted.

It still is. I don’t take it for granted. I hope I never do. Asked about the best part of my life, I was much quicker off the mark: I’m the best boss I’ve ever had. And I’ve had terrific bosses.

The boneyard

Today, the final day of drawings, I am offering a two-fer: a T-shirt that says, “Be careful or I’ll put you in my novel” — and the chance to be in a novel. Maybe mine, but maybe someone else’s, someone better!

Finally, what did this week have to do with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn? Well, Cheapskate Charlie has a little promotion, in which kids buying a penny’s worth of candy can pick a number for one of fifty prizes hanging on a board and decide whether to take the candy or the prize. There are some fabulous prizes on the board, but no one ever gets them. The game, as Frannie learns late in the book, has always been rigged. Not this one. There will be five winners. (However, no one can win twice.) Be patient with me in terms of shipping; it’s not my strong suit and I am traveling a lot. But know that I am very grateful to the readers who allowed me to walk out of The Sun ten years ago. Pizza, presents, even robots can’t repay you all.


60 thoughts on “Goodnight, Irene

    • I believe you are the best! I always look forward to your new books and then I am disappointed because I finish them too fast and I want them to keep going!!! Never disappointed in your books though. I guess I need to slow down and savor them a bit more…Of course I have read them at least twice!! Keep up the wonderful work.

  1. It’s the Teletubbie on the shelf that piques my curiousity.

    Congratulations on another great launch week. And you still have New York City to look forward to on Wednesday evening!

  2. Maybe I’ll think of myself as a success when I finally stop expecting people to figure out that I have no idea what I’m doing. I don’t think I’ll hold my breath on that one.

    You, my friend, are amazing. Stay safe and away from the big winds and mighty floods.

  3. I am deep into your book and enjoying the suspense you create.
    You have yet another winner.
    With Irene looming, I will make sure to keep my iPad Kindle charged here in Philly.
    Well done and thanks for being such an approachable writer

  4. You are so humble, I would probabyly be so much more obnoxious if I had yoru success! Your bog is fun and informative to read. Hoping our house comes out okay like it did during Isabel. While everyone stocked up on tp and water, I was at the store for a watermelon.

  5. Oh, and “Goodnight, Irene” makes me think of the Weavers Reunion Concert film (shown on PBS) and what an incredible thing that was to watch. Their art, your art, art all around when one remembers to look for it. Many blessings.

  6. Success, for me, is all about completing a task. Even a small one signals a victory against numerous obstacles. Congratulations on your latest remarkable accomplishment, Laura. :-)

    What a great idea for a t-shirt! I wonder if they have one that says “screenplay” as well?

  7. Can’t wait to read your new book. I’ve read all the others and am one of your biggest fans. Every bit of your success is richly deserved which is more than I can say for so many other “writers” out there. Good luck with the storm, book sales, etc.

  8. Safe travels!

    I love your Mac boneyard.

    Tonight is book buying night-the Kindle’s all charged and ready. Your new one is on the list! Can’t wait to read it.

  9. Laura you are fast becoming a favorite read in our library in Ky. In fact I have recently added some more of your books!

  10. Is that a Nancy Pearl action figure on your shelf? One adorns my office.

    Lippman pub week is turning into one of my favorite seasons. Thank you for the fun posts, contests & prizes!

    But I’ve been traveling and could not find The Most Dangerous Thing in either the Denver or Minneapolis/St. Paul airport??? I almost broke down and bought the Kindle version but managed to hold out for the print edition.

  11. Addendum to the above post: I’m hoping that the the fact that I couldn’t find them is a very good thing and they were sold out of many copies.

  12. Alas, not being able to find a physical book is never a good thing, even if it means that there were copies and they sold out. Granted, airport bookstores are very competitive, with limited space, but . . . sigh.

  13. Congrats on a great release week. Life long Baltimore resident living in California happy to report that all 23 libraries in San Mateo County system have holds on The Most Dangerous Thing. So much for the “regional writer” tag.

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