One of the highlights of summer in my town is the Bigfork Festival of the Arts. I’ve been going nearly every year for decades, and loved taking my late mother through the streets – street, singular; town is very small – on her visits, browsing the booths of pottery, jewelry, soaps, and other handmade items. When my first mystery, Assault & Pepper, came out in 2013, Mr. Right and I had a booth right outside our favorite art gallery. The number of books we sold still astonishes me – the Food Lovers’ Village mysteries are set in a fictional version of the town, and the real-life residents have been my biggest supporters.
And every year since, we’ve been there. Regular readers know I usually have a new book out, and come by to pick up a copy and get it signed. We all look forward to it.
This is a tourist town, and the Festival draws many visitors on their first visit to the valley. They haven’t met me or the books yet, and I love chatting with them. With “Playhouse kids,” the young actors who get giddy at picking up a copy of Butter Off Dead, featuring the theater lobby on the cover, for their mother or grandmother. The planning-ahead Christmas shoppers. The readers who say “Oh, are these like the books by the woman who writes about the food?” and aren’t the least bit surprised that I know exactly who they mean. (Diane Mott Davidson. Every time. And it still makes Mr. Right smile and shake his head in wonder.)
By four-thirty on Sunday, we can barely speak. We pack up the booth—everything, even the canopy, fits in the back of my Subaru—call our favorite restaurant for a pizza to go, and head home. Hot, exhausted, and happy. So happy.
This virus has disrupted my publication dates as well. The Solace of Bay Leaves will be out in ebook and audio on July 21, and in paperback on October 20. (The publisher was forced to delay the paperback by disruptions in the supply chain, which meant it couldn’t guarantee that distributors, booksellers, and libraries would have the book by October 20, but those problems don’t affect the ebook or audio, and we didn’t want to make you wait any longer than necessary.) I do hope we can safely meet by then; watch my website and newsletter for updates.
So you can imagine how sad I am to miss the Festival this year. At this writing, it is still planned for August 1-2, in the village of Bigfork. It will have a different configuration, and no doubt fewer vendors and shoppers. But I won’t be there. Mr. Right is a doctor of natural medicine, and we can’t risk unwittingly spreading the virus to his patients. Social distancing isn’t possible at a festival, especially for me. Books aren’t like pottery or soap. Yes, you might visit with the soap maker and ask the potter questions about glazes and designs, but books—you gotta talk, up close and personal! Especially if you don’t know the books, you want to visit and hear about the book from the author. And I want to talk with you. I want to sign the book and smile for a selfie with you and my bright colorful booth.
Just know that I miss you, that I’m still writing, and that I’ll be back next year.
Until then, be well.
PS — If you do pop into the Village at any time, you can find signed copies of my books at the Bigfork Art & Cultural Center gift shop (next to the library) or at Roma’s Kitchen Shop.