Sometimes you can just tell.
The first clue was when I was in Denver for the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association show last September. BookBar owner Nicole Sullivan and her cohort, Carol Timblin, made it known I'd be welcome there when Monument Road came out, and I made a point of getting over to see their new store, which is a delightful mashup of neighborhood institution, bookstore, coffee/pastry shop and wine bar.
It wasn't that Denver's other indie booksellers aren't great stores. They are. It was more I sensed they could take me or leave me as a first-time novelist without a super-strong Denver connection. And that's cool.
Events consume valuable store time, attention, space and resources, and my needs and dates have to align with theirs, so we both have to pick and choose.
Besides the initial welcome last year, the BookBar seemed sized and situated right for my May 1 reading. It's a bit quirky, with high standards and great style. An upstart that opened at a time skeptics thought bookstores would keep closing.
Kind of like a certain novelist who started at a time of life when some people might devote themselves to golf and martinis.
The second clue came much later, when Nicole recognized me on the street as we headed into a nearby restaurant for dinner before the reading at her store. She chased us down and told the bartender to take good care of us.
The third clue was a sound system in the store. It's not a big place, but it is a bar. People are allowed to talk when I'm talking. The mic was appreciated but fortunately, it wasn't necessary.
And a final indication of their connection to the arts community... Two of the employees were rehearsing for the next-day opening of Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author. Sallie Diamond plays a deranged milliner "as brilliant as her name," and Carol Timblin rushed over after dress rehearsal, still in makeup, to make the end of my reading!
Way to win a former theater guy's heart, BookBar.