Why you should see writer Stephen Elliott read from his new book at Laurenn McCubbin’s house
Thu, Sep 17, 2009 (midnight)
Because Elliot’s new book, The Adderall Diaries, sounds like a great book: “I’d had writer’s block for a while; and I had been taking Adderall when I was younger, and I’d stopped, and I started taking it again, because, you know, I was kind of in a bad place. So I went back on the medication, and I just started documenting that.
“And within a few days of that, I get this weird phone call that this guy I kind of knew, that we’d had a lot of overlap through the San Francisco S&M community, had confessed to eight murders. And he was the best friend of Hans Riser, who was on trial for murdering his wife. And they hadn’t found the wife’s body. And you’ve got this other guy, who the wife left Hans for, saying he murdered eight people—though not the wife—eight people who had abused and molested him.
“And I thought, Okay, maybe what I should do is write a true-crime book. In addition to that, for years I’d been looking into my father’s confession—my father had confessed to a murder in his unpublished memoir.
“So all this stuff kind of came together. I went to the trial for six months, and I followed up with this person and interviewed him a bunch, but in the end, it’s really about two things: It’s about me and my father, and it’s about being a writer, and writing. What that’s about, what we try to get out of that.”
BECAUSE FOR ALL THAT, IT’S NOT AS COMPLICATED AS IT SOUNDS: “There’s a lot going on; I mean, there’s three false murder confessions, and there’s a memoir and a true-crime book. But, you know, in 200 pages, you can actually take on a lot. If it takes me five minutes to summarize the book, it’s still a very simple book, very easy to read.”
BECAUSE HE HAS A REFRESHINGLY DO-IT-YOURSELF ATTITUDE TOWARD BUILDING A READERSHIP: “I’d done this thing where I let anyone who wanted to read the book—anyone—I’d send ’em a copy, and all they had to do was promise to forward it on to the next person within a week. So with about 50 advance copies I was able to get about 400 people to read the book before it came out. So I sent a note to those 400 people, asking if anyone wanted to do a book event, a reading, in their home—either for a book group, or as a party. I asked if they could get at least 20 people there; that was the minimum.”
BECAUSE IT WILL BE MORE FUN THAN A TYPICAL BOOKSTORE READING: “It’s more intimate, a more direct connection with people. So yeah, the event in Las Vegas—it will be kind of loose; there will be alcohol, I would imagine. I’ll read, probably, and we’ll have a discussion, and depending on how people feel maybe I’ll read some more. I know in some places people are having music, there’s a DJ, maybe some dancing. Each person is putting together their own thing. Which is nice, because it means that somebody in each town is kind of owning it.
“I think we’ll stick around a lot longer. At a bookstore, after the reading, everyone leaves. At a house party, we’ll hang out, we’ll eat cupcakes.”
BECAUSE HE’S NOT KIDDING ABOUT THE CUPCAKES: The Retro Bakery is donating cupcakes to the event, and Rejavanate Coffee Lounge is providing coffee. Word!