Author in the City of Churches

Okay, since it’s rather vague, I should probably explain that title. It’s an allusion to “Devil in the White City,” by Erik Larson.

Erik Larson Fort Wayne IndianaSorry for the fuzzy picture, but that’s what you get with my camera when I turn off the flash. I just wanted you to see what a huge crowd turned out — hundreds. I was so excited to see such a group come out on a night with beautiful weather to hear an author speak. I maneuvered my way along unfamiliar roads into the city, and once all the cars ahead of me started driving slowly as well, I pretty much knew we were all looking for the same place. I parked a few blocks away and walked.

Larson is author of the above-mentioned book, which introduced me to him. His latest, “In the Garden of Beasts,” depicts the year 1933 in Nazi Germany. Both are fascinating, leading to the praise often mentioned of Larson that he writes non-fiction that reads like fiction.

It was interesting hearing Larson talk about how he works, especially since I’m working on a non-fiction book now myself. He organizes his material chronologically, by the year, day, and sometimes even by the hour. Then, he can see how events line up and organize them into a story-like form. He mentioned finding a website where he can find out the weather conditions for any day in Berlin’s history, back to the 1920s. This is so hugely helpful in adding detail to his books. I sure wish there were such a site for Munich in the 1880s, but alas ….

Asked which of his book eras he’d most like to live in, Larson said Munich in 1933 — with the stipulation that he could then return to the current day. He also mentioned that he thought it would be a lot of fun to ride in the 1893 Ferris Wheel. Yes!

He mentioned how people on both sides of the political spectrum saw parallels between current times and the early Nazi era … liberals see the dangers with Iran, while folks on the “far, far right” see Obama as Hitler. Uh oh … my political radar began to go off, and it seemed gratuitous to try to associate all those wacky right-wingers with Obama = Hitler. Obama may not be Hitler, but there are also many others he’s not. Don’t get me started 🙂 However, this was a good caveat to me. When writing a book (or speaking about a book), it’s best to avoid the political. Why antagonize half your audience right off the bat?

Afterwards, I opted to skip the mile-long line for book signing. I walked through the darkened streets to my vehicle, drove past many older, huge, ivy-covered Tudor houses — the part of town where the doctors used to live, prior to suburbs — and back to my cozy bed.

4 thoughts on “Author in the City of Churches

  1. I am glad you get to do such neat things.

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