A gathering of authors, and those who love them: annual
Walnut Creek Library Foundation gala
By Lou Fancher
March is the worst month to go on a diet, especially with the Walnut Creek Library Foundation's sixth annual Authors Gala arriving on March 14.
There's the "Bids, Bites & Books" affair, offering a two-hour reception featuring author signings and a silent auction, for $75. Or guests can opt for the full $225 package: the reception plus a "Supper Club" gourmet dinner, prepared by Grace Street Catering and served amid the stacks on the downtown library's second floor, and including conversation with some of the literary guests of honor. As of Tuesday, the Supper Club tickets have sold out, but there were still tickets for the reception and auction.
A benefit for the programs and collections at Walnut Creek's two libraries, last year's gala raised $110,000. Library Foundation Executive Director Kristin Anderson said that money was directed to summer reading programs, a landscape makeover at the Ygnacio Valley library and general operations not otherwise funded. With attendance capped at 220, Anderson said this year's increased sponsor support is a key to the gala's success.
To preview the event, Berkeley author Annie Barrows ("Ivy + Bean" series, and co-author of "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society") and Oakland author Linda Carucci ("Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks") described in separate interviews the library of their dreams.
"The perfect library would have incredibly large children's rooms," Barrows said. "It would have everything I read as a child and everything that's happened since then. I might skip early primers for good behavior, but everything after 1885 would be in there."
After two floors, Barrows said she'd add adult books, but no self-help books. "I read them all the time and feel terrible about myself afterward," she said.
Carucci, a former instructor at the Art Institute of California's International Culinary School in San Francisco and an award-winning chef, was thinking only about food.
"I reach for 'The Food Lover's Companion' daily, so we'd have that," she said. "People interested in food should read anything by Laurie Colwin, a food writer who was inspirational. Also, any book by a writer who has the power to evoke curiosity, memory and emotion about cooking. Glossaries and guidebooks give you well-researched, reliable information."
Carucci was humbled by the writing experience and said a month before her deadline she had to cut 50 recipes. Asked if she's planning a sequel, she said, "I was in hibernation for a year and a half while writing. I'm a people person, so another book doesn't appeal to me."
Barrows, on the other hand, has churned out 10 "Ivy + Bean" books and in 2014, Bloomsbury USA published "Magic in the Mix," a sequel to her middle-grade series. Her first solo turn as an adult novelist, "The Truth According to Us" (Dial), is due in bookstores in June.
"All writers are vampires of language," she said. "I often ignore the person I'm supposed to listen to because I hear someone behind my head saying something interesting."
For Barrows, language is riveting and the West Virginia 1930s words in her new novel embody characters that eventually built her manuscript into a 57-inch-high stack.
"Even though it's 500 pages, it could have been twice as long," she said.