Posted by: Kristi Tuck Austin | April 13, 2011

March recap: Léna Roy visits RVA

March passed in one blur of temperamental weather, book events, black and gold, red and blue, Rams and Spiders, and, for me, a bout of the flu. That last part happened at the end of a terrific week. Adam and I attended Virginia Festival of the Book and author Léna Roy came to the River City all the way from New York. The posts I intended for those events slipped away during the NyQuil-induced stupor, but meeting Léna and the festival were too good to let pass without comment. Today I’ll talk about Léna’s visit and Friday will be Virginia Festival of the Book recap. Thanks for bearing with me as I commit a cardinal blog sin and talk about something that is no longer timely. (You are the best, you really are.)

Fountain's window display of EDGES and the lovely Léna


Léna Roy at Fountain Bookstore

After Léna’s writing workshop, Mining Your Life for Your Fiction, more people arrived and we pulled chairs into the circle for Léna’s reading and a discussion of Edges. Léna read from the opening scene where we see the Moonflower Motel, a youth hostel that’s home to the runaway main character Luke, and meet the characters–including a schizophrenic janitor who warns against alien abductions in the Utah desert–who live there. The reading made us chuckle, a good follow-up for the informal workshop, and the questions from readers soon turned to the more serious issues of recovery and healing family. Léna shared about her time as a youth counselor in Moab and her experiences that led to writing the novel (another perfect segue from the workshop where we talked about writing from our passions). We talked about Léna’s process of getting a novel published and her grandmother Madeleine L’Engle, author of over 60 books including A Wrinkle in Time.

Léna and author Ellen Brown

Ellen F. Brown, author of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood, came by for the reading and discussion. Léna’s daughter’s name is Scarlett, which I think indicates Léna is a fan of Ms. Mitchell’s novel, and I know Léna was looking forward to buying Ellen’s book from Fountain. In this photo, Léna signs a copy of Edges for Ellen’s children and Ellen signs her book for Léna and Scarlett. I love that Fountain and Léna’s event became a meeting place for authors, readers, musicians, young professionals, and artists.

Léna's toes in green and Kelly Justice's toes in blue

Léna and Fountain Bookstore’s owner Kelly Justice knew they had something in common just by their feet. The writing workshop’s attention to shoes really brought our eyes to their flare.


Léna signs my copy of Edges

Here Léna signs the copy of Edges I bought from Fountain back in December when the novel was released from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. I also bought copies for my sister and brother, and Léna signed stack. My siblings were thrilled to get a personalized copy, especially since they couldn’t make it to the signing, and my brother surprised me by knowing all of Léna’s four truths and a lie.

Léna, Ellen Brown, and Kelly Justice

Stop by Fountain Bookstore to pick up your signed copy of Edges.

Check out Léna’s recap of her visit.

Before the flu sank its phlegm-tipped talons into me, I posted a bit on Léna’s writing workshop here. You can read my review of Edges on Goodreads.

Huge thanks go to Léna for coming to Richmond and Fountain Bookstore for hosting!*

Other adventures around Richmond

Léna’s event at Fountain was the capstone of her visit, but we also had a great time around Richmond. Léna arrived Monday evening at the gorgeous Main Street Station. The weather was balmy, the trees were blooming, and Main Street Station was the perfect welcome. We ordered steaming coffee at Shockoe Espresso and strolled up Cary Street, admiring the tulips and ornamental pears, and over to see the Virginia State Capitol.

Saturday morning started with Léna’s visit to Virginia This Morning, and she signed stock at Books-A-Million. (Thanks, Freeman!) We had a mini driving tour of the city and went for decaf soy lattes and a muffin at Ellwood’s Cafe, my favorite latte in town. Freeman suggested lunch at Perly’s, and we’re so glad he did. The diner fit Richmond’s laid-back charm and our relaxed day. I ordered breakfast food (omelete and home fries and biscuits–yum!) and Léna, who grew up in New York City, made sure to have Perly’s southern biscuits and grits.

The afternoon was pure silliness and fun. Léna has three children, and like many parents, theatre visits involve Pixar or princesses, so we went to Movieland and saw Paul. We laughed like a couple fourteen year olds. Then we spent time in the Slip. The next stop on our caffeine tour was Urban Farmhouse for, you guessed it, another decaf soy latte. We had a long chat with the barista, who is another recent RVA transplant. (I love this city.) Léna, Adam, and I finished the evening with dinner in the Slip with other folks who came for the reading.

The combination of food, coffee, writing, books, and meeting an author, who has become a life-long friend, is my ideal time in RVA.  What is yours?

*This, ladies and gentlemen, is why we need to keep our indie bookstores open. I mentioned to the staff at Fountain that I’d love an event with Léna, and they made it happen. That was all it took. Try it some time. Go in, buy a book, talk with the staff, and tell them about an author you love. Or you can do that at any of Richmond’s other fine independent bookstores. I’ll get off my soapbox now.

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