began his Closing Address at the Savannah Book Festival
by saying that some may think the life of a best-selling author includes "a bevy of assistants, a dog under my arm, and a smoking jacket." That is not the case for Baldacci, who shared that when he goes home his wife often says, "It's trash day. Get on it."
As promised in an interview
with Savannah Morning News
, Baldacci told a number of stories that had the crowd at the sold-out Trustees Theaters laughing out loud. One story was about his daughter who had observed her father autographing many books. When talking about why folks want her dad to sign his name in books, Baldacci said his daughter's answer is..."he has the best hand writing."
"I started out as a short story writer," said Baldacci, who is a fan of Flannery O'Connor and Truman Capote. "I should have changed my byline to J.D. Salinger," he said. "I'd have had a better chance of getting published."
Since then, Baldacci
, 52, has published 25 novels and two children's books. Yet, Baldacci considers the early rejections a "badge of honor." He said, "I got rejection after rejection after rejection on pre-printed cards that read 'Sorry, we only publish talent.'"
Baldacci considers the rejections a badge of honor because they were proof that he had not only written something, but also finished it. Despite the rejections, Baldacci continued to write because it was and is his passion and "passion rarely strikes again for a human being." Baldacci's advice: Don't let a stranger keep you from following your passion.
He then went on to tell another story. "Authors are not usually recognized in public, but I was having lunch one day and saw a woman with laser-eyes looking at me," said Baldacci. Soon he "felt a presence" and it was the woman, who sat down at the table with him and his wife. She said, "You are who I think you are!" Baldacci replied, "Ma'am, do you read a lot of fiction?" The woman then screams across the restaurant, "I was right, Joe! It is John Grisham!" "My wife blew iced tea out of her nose," said Baldacci. "If you try to do it, it's not as easy as you think." David's wife, Michelle, then said, "Right gender, wrong author." "Oh, my," said the woman. "Are you Baldacci?" Baldacci says "yes" and then the woman yells across the restaurant, "You were right, Joe! It is the Italian!"
Baldacci then went on to share another story:
I do a lot of research for my novels, and it's important. But, sometimes research can get you into trouble. I was on Amtrak's Acela train from D.C. to New York, two guys were sitting across from me, and I was on the phone with medical examiner in New York City to set-up face-to-face interview. All my interviews are face-to-face. She said she'd be out of the country and asked if we could do the interview over the phone. I explained my detailed idea on poisoning this guy so that police would not know it's a murder. The medical examiner said, 'I'd do it just the way you described it to me. It's foolproof!' Dude across from me had this panicked expression on his face, and the other one was looking over his shoulder. Here come the Amtrak police. I didn't make it to New York that day. I was detained as a person of interest! In Split Second, I apologized to folks on the train. Fair of judge to let me do it that way.
a number of other "humorous anecdotes about life as a famous author."
In addition, Baldacci shared a very heart-warming story about his mother. "I only wrote Wish You Well
because of my mom," said Baldacci. His mom grew up in a coal mining town "on the top of a mountain in Southwest Virginia." Baldacci drew insights from her about life there and was amazed at her vivid memory. He said his mom explained it this way, "Nothing in the middle of nowhere. You don't forget anything about it even if you want to."
"Two years ago, Mom was in hospice," said Baldacci. He got a call saying that she didn't have much longer to live. "I didn't make it in time," he said. "I went to an outdoor event where Mom was from and at the book signing every single inscription was Happy Mother's Day."
Baldacci has finished the Wish You Well
screenplay, and he said I'm going to "get this movie made for her."
Baldacci concluded his remarks by sharing a story about taking a boat ride with former President George H.W. Bush years ago. Let's just say it involved a Secret Service agent holding on to two girls with all his might, one of whom was Baldacci's daughter, and praying.
Following his Closing Address, Baldacci signed copies of his most recent novel The Forgotten
As the woman who introduced David Baldacci said, "It is bittersweet to see the Savannah Book Festival come to a close." That is so true. It was an event filled with outstanding authors such as Al Gore
, Dr. Heidi Squier Kraft
, James Patterson
, Gregg Allman
, and many more. The 7th Annual Savannah Book Festival cannot come soon enough.