Thursday, November 5, 2009

Locally Born Author Mary Doria Russell Rocks the House

I love books and the people who write them. But I don't know if I've ever had as big of an author crush as this. Let me just say: Mary Doria Russell rocks.

Looks are deceiving. She came in the room and looked like a quiet, introverted author: a petite, gray-haired woman holding a cup of tea. But then she opened her mouth, and you see she's a real pistol with a wicked sense of humor, a dazzling imagination and great stage presence. She admits she's been a ham since high school.

She's the author of four bestselling books, soon to be five. She grew up in neighboring Lombard, Illinois, and was invited back to inaugurate the Mary Doria Russell Chapter of the National English Honor Society at Glenbard East High School. She also spoke and signed books at the Helen Plum Library in Lombard.

She had us at "hello." She greeted the crowd by saying: "Hi, my name is Mary and I'm a book junkie." The crowd picked up her cue and answered her back, as if we were all at an AA meeting: "Hello, Mary!" Later, we joked that our crowd's familiarity with that greeting was revealing. Mary said with a wink, "well, we all know it from TV, right?"

She chronicled her addiction to books in the language of a true junkie. Dr. Suess was her gateway drug; Nancy Drew her tobacco ("made me look older and smarter"), Zane Grey her cocaine. Teachers and librarians were her dealers. Nothing got her more excited as a young reader than a nice, long "Also by" list at the front of a book. That's how she knew she wouldn't have to worry about where to get her next fix.

Speaking of fixes, fans of Mary's fiction are due for another one in 2010 with the release of her newest book, Eight to Five, Against, a western murder mystery set in Dodge City, Kansas featuring Doc Holliday. Mary says it's about "vice, bigotry, violence and living with a terminal disease," and claims that Doc will break your heart. Can't wait to read it -- we'll let you know when it comes out, and hopefully we'll get Mary back to celebrate.

Fun and interesting scoop on her other books: Brad Pitt wants to make a movie about The Sparrow, the story about the baby on the bomb in Thread of Grace was completely true, and she got the idea for Dreamers of the Day by seeing a documentary on the History Channel. By the way, when Brad Pitt called to meet with her about making The Sparrow, she turned him down in favor of a much needed and long-planned vacation. Although they plan to reschedule, she loves to claim that she blew off Brad Pitt. You go girl.

We have a few extra signed copies of her books left to sell at The Bookstore. Call (630) 469-2891 or e-mail us at if you'd like us to hold one for you. For more information on Mary Doria Russell and her books, go to her website.

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