The Author Brunch 


Jacquelyn Mitchard


Those of you who were unable to join the Friends of the Palm Springs Library for our Author Brunch with JACQUELYN MITCHARD

missed a lovely, laugh-filled afternoon.

   Here are a few of the highlights:

At left: FOPSL President Cathy Brant, author Jacquelyn Mitchard 

and the Director of Library Services, Jeannie Kays 

Above: Cathy Brant introduces Ms. Mitchard

   In reply to a question about how she came up with her book titles, Mitchard produced three old, worn, multi-paged, yellow-legal-pad flow-charts of the waltzes or jumps each had taken in its title search, with snappy, completely logical (yet ultimately discarded) explanations of the contenders which kept us all laughing. It was truly a glimpse into Mitchard’s fascinating creative process.

   Another revealed facet to her artistry was the almost  nonchalant revelation that Mitchard knows exactly what she is going to write, from start to finish, once she ends her research and takes a seat at the keyboard. I found this surprising, since many, if not most, writers claim a closer kinship with sculptors, whose stories slowly reveal themselves as the imagination pursues its quarry to an end i(n the same way

marble releases a David or la Pieta from its blocky prison) rather than emerging fully-blossomed from the opening moment.

   This fact of her certainty in the telling, of a complete 

knowing, instantly added to her creative allure and her

story-crafting authority.

Below: Ms. Mitchard autographs Milt Levinson's 

copies of her latest novel, Two If By Sea 

   After a delicious meal on the sunny patio or inside the cozy environs of Mr. Lyon’s Steakhouse (at the bend in Palm Canyon), the delightful and entirely unpretentious Ms. Mitchard took the stage after President Cathy Brant’s introduction and charmed 

us immediately.

   Asked about having been chosen as Oprah Winfrey’s very first Book Club choice in the mid-90s for THE DEEP END OF THE OCEAN, the golden-red headed Mitchard related the comic story of instantly erasing Ms. Winfrey’s first TWO phone messages, thinking they were pranks. Until her son told her, on the third day, that there was yet another message from a “really annoyed” lady named Oprah Winfrey and that he thought she’d better call her back. Mitchard’s natural story-telling ability had already woven its re-creation but her impersonation of the famous powerhouse conveyed immediate depth, humor and realism. “Oprah is wonderful! She’s very, very nice and her heart is definitely in the right place. But she is also very, very… shall we say… ‘business-like’? ... off-camera.”

   A knowing smile. “Next question?”

Above: The ladies who brunch at Mr. Lyon's Steakhouse 

with the charming Jacquelyn Mitchard - January 28, 2017

   I’m embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t heard of Jacquelyn Mitchard’s work before this event. My reading the past ten years has been limited to the historical for a biographical subject. And when I heard “Oprah’s Book Club,” I (predictably) conjured a “woman’s writer” of superficial, swash-buckling prose and meaningless heaving bosoms.

   But that night, after Mitchard’s lecture, I read a good deal of her latest novel, TWO IF BY SEA, and knew immediately that I was in the capable hands of a master, golden-tongued weaver – and felt (predictably) chagrined at my original cynicism. For here was a voice so immediate, so natural, so convincing and unhurried and palpable, that I became an instant fan.

   Acting as chauffeur for Ms. Mitchard and her assistant, Stephanie, I was lucky enough to tell her of my admiration and wondered, of her many books, which was her favorite. “No one’s ever asked me that before!” she laughed. “Let me think.” 

I took note of her phrasing when, after a moment, she said: “Overall, the one I’d have to say gave me the most complete satisfaction was CAGE OF STARS.” For which I thanked her and immediately added to the top of my BUY IT NOW list. 

   The lady is a genuine talent and we hope Ms. Mitchard will make a return appearance sooner than later!   


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