A Perfect Day in Atlanta

Let me tell you about my favorite day in Atlanta last week during the RWA conference.

Esther Levine has been a media escort for twenty years and she knows the book business, particularly in Atlanta where she’s escorted many of the world’s most famous authors from airport to media appearance to book event.

And as I mentioned in my blog yesterday, Esther made me realize that the book industry isn’t like other businesses. You can’t expect it to behave logically, not when it’s something of a dinosaur among young Mammoths.

But Esther didn’t just sweetly chauffeur me from book store to book store, or introduce me to all the right people at each of the ten stores we visited, (and do it all so serenely that I truly relaxed for the first time in weeks), she also made me fall in love with Atlanta. I saw places I’ve got to return to, places like Sandy Springs and Roswell and glamorous Buckhead. I ate the best fried chicken of my life (buttermilk is the secret) and amazing homemade blackberry cobbler. I learned why so much of downtown Atlanta is new (how could I have forgotten that Sherman burned the city all those years ago?). I shook hands with people who were friendly and kind, and pestered Esther with questions about Southern manners, the great Southern literary tradition (I am a huge Eudora Welty fan) and what it’s like raising kids in Georgia.

And this I know: the book business isn’t just about selling books. It’s about meeting kindred spirits who love stories and books maybe even more than I do.

So if you’re an author going on a book tour, you must go to Atlanta, and you must call Esther Levine to schedule her immediately.

And don’t forget, whatever you do, to beg my new and wonderful friend Esther to take you to The Brickery Grill for genuine Southern fried chicken, and sinful peach pie or my favorite, warm sweet berry cobbler.

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