The title of this post should really be “Joseph Finder and Steve Berry at The BookMark” but Steve Berry was the person I went to The BookMark bookstore to see although he was not the reason for the event. But I didn’t know that until the day of the book signing. The event was a stop on the book tour of Joseph Finder, a writer I was not familiar with before this night.
I started reading Steve Berry novels after finding one while browsing the Leisure Books collection at Hunt Library. I didn’t know who he was, but the title The Patriot Threat and its story involving a conspiracy surrounding a painting of George Washington and the 16th Amendment intrigued me. I really enjoyed the fast-paced story interspersed with historical facts and conspiracies. After reading, I learned that this novel was the tenth book in the Cotton Malone Series. I decided to start reading the series from the beginning and soon bought The Templar Legacy. I have read and enjoyed all of the Cotton Malone novels and short stories.
I knew Berry had a new novel coming out in February 2020 and that his book tours always include a talk at The BookMark bookstore in Neptune Beach, Florida. His official website showed an event on January 23. I thought it was for his forthcoming book The Warsaw Protocol. When I checked the bookstore’s social media to make sure the event was still on, I discovered that it was actually for the launch of Joseph Finder’s new novel House on Fire. Steve Berry, who lives nearby, would be interviewing Finder. I still wanted to go.
After a nearly two-hour drive to Neptune Beach, I arrived a few minutes before 7:00 pm. There was a free chair near the front so I had a close view of the talk. Steve asked Joe about his new book, the character Nick Heller, his methods of writing, and the two feature films that were based on his books (including how little influence he had on them). Steve shared his writing experiences, as well. The two writers were clearly friends and Finder didn’t seem to mind sharing the stage with Berry.
The authors discussed the pros and cons of writing series and how they have to conform to certain limits in content and style. I pointed out that Berry had strayed from his usual style with The Bishop’s Pawn by writing in the first-person. He said that departure didn’t go over well with his readers and that prompted a discussion into first-person versus third-person writing. Both authors agreed that first-person stories were harder to write.
After the talk I purchased House on Fire and asked if I could have Steve sign my own copy of The Lost Order. Bookstores don’t often let you bring your own books to signings, but the staff were happy to let us have our personal copies signed. I first asked Steve to sign my book and then took a couple photos with him. Steve was very unassuming and probably would have been more happy to talk about the menu of Sliders Oyster Bar next door than being a famous novelist.
Next I met Joe Finder and he signed my newly-purchased book. I asked about his series and whether I could read this new book first or go back and start at the beginning of the Nick Heller Series. He said it didn’t matter, the books were written to be read in any order. I plan to read his books but I will probably start with the first one, Vanished.
After an hour of book talk, Q&A, and signing, I drove home. It was a lot of driving for a one-hour event for an author I hadn’t heard of before, but I am glad I went. Steve Berry will be back at The BookMark on March 6, 2020, to finish his book tour, and I plan to be there.