On Being a Debut Novelist: Julia Claiborne Johnson, Steven Rowley and Kemper Donovan Read & Discuss their Hot New Novels

Wednesday, July 13th at 7 p.m.

This trio of debut novelists have each, in different ways, been lauded for their effervescence and warmth. They will discuss the joys and pratfalls of their common experience as first-published fiction-makers and read from their funny and big-hearted new novels:  Rowley’s Lily and the Octopus, Johnson’s Be Frank With Me and Donovan’s The Decent Proposal. Partake of this delightful trifecta on Wednesday, July 13th at 7 p.m. Reading, talk and signing.

BeFrankwMeIn Julia Claiborne Johnson’s Be Frank With Me, reclusive literary legend M. M. “Mimi” Banning has been holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years. But after falling prey to a Bernie Madoff-style ponzi scheme, she’s flat broke. Now Mimi must write a new book for the first time in decades. When her New York publisher sends Alice Whitley, an assistant, to monitor her progress, Alice is  put to work right away—as a full-time companion to Frank, the writer’s eccentric nine-year-old, a boy with the intellect of Albert Einstein, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth-graders. Full of countless “only-in-Hollywood” moments, Be Frank with Me is a captivating and unconventional story of an unusual mother and son, and the intrepid young woman who finds herself irresistibly pulled into their unforgettable world.

“Julia Claiborne Johnson has struck gold in creating Frank Banning — a one-of-a-kind exasperating, witty and endearing nine-year-old genius who functions as the beating heart of this marvelous book.”— Julie Schumacher, author of Dear Committee Members

LilyandtheOctopus_HC_Cvr_FinalSteven Rowley’s Lily and the Octopus is the story of a man whose dog’s cancer takes the form of an evil, talking octopus. Strange and hilarious, it likely will make you cry. Ted Flask is a man struggling with loneliness. His saving grace is the intimacy he shares with Lily, his 12-year-old dachshund. Unfortunately Lily is ill and running out of time. Ted’s love for Lily is fierce, raw, and his struggle with loss cracks his life open anew. Like a The Year of Magical Thinking for dog lovers, Lily and the Octopus is a profound reflection on our connection to those around us, human or animal.

“Steven Rowley’s touching, fresh, energetic novel isn’t simply another ‘boy and his dog’ story. It is a profound exploration of grief… A wonderfully moving story.” —Garth Stein, bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

“Singular, spectacular, and touchingly tentacular.” —Chris Cleave, bestselling author of Little Bee

A Decent proposalThe Decent Proposal is a humorous, heartfelt love story built on a tantalizing premise: would you agree to spend two hours a week with a stranger—just talking—to collect half a million dollars at the end of a year? Struggling Hollywood producer Richard is twenty-nine, hungover, and broke. He spends his days procrastinating at the Coffee Bean and nights hanging out with his best friend, Michaela, aka “Mike.” At thirty-three, Elizabeth is on track to make partner at her law firm. Known as “La Máquina”—the Machine—to her colleagues, she’s grown used to a quiet, orderly life with no romantic entanglements of any kind. As these two perfect strangers wade awkwardly into the waters of modern courtship, they realize that uncovering the secret identity of their benefactor will not only make clear what connects them but change them both forever.

“Impossible to put down, this character-rich, breakout novel will make your heart burst with love. You’ll turn the pages so fast you might get a paper cut.”—Claire Bidwell Smith, author of The Rules of Inheritance

Julia CJJulia Claiborne Johnson grew up on a farm in Tennessee, breaking horses to ride, milking cows and seeing firsthand exactly what a peacock looks like in a farmyard full of chickens. After that she moved to New York, where she worked for Mademoiselle and Glamour magazines before marrying and moving to Hancock Park. She lives here with her comedy-writer husband and two children. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Also Instagram.

steve1-XLSteven Rowley has worked as a freelance writer, newspaper columnist, and screenwriter. Originally from Portland, Maine, he is a graduate of Emerson College. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his boyfriend and their dog. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @MrStevenRowley.

Kemper Donovan

Kemper Donovan has lived in Los Angeles for the past twelve years. A graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School, he worked at the literary management company Circle of Confusion for a decade, representing screenwriters and comic books. He is also a member of the New York Bar Association.