The Mark Blog

Interview With Eduardo Santiago: The Idyllwild Authors Series

Eduardo Santiago and I were Emerging Voices Fellows the same year. After the fellowship, Eduardo went on to be a participant in the first year of The Mark Program. His book, Tomorrow They Will Kiss, was published by Little, Brown. He has another book coming out this July, Midnight Rumba. Eduardo also hosts the Idyllwild Authors Series, sponsored by PEN Center USA. We recently met up and talked about the upcoming season.

Natali Petricic: What inspired you to create this reading series?
Eduardo Santiago: The local bookstore was struggling for business and on the verge of closing down. I thought I could help bring more attention to it by following Skylight Books' model of hosting author events. It proved successful, and the Third Annual Idyllwild Authors Series begins May 19, 2013, and runs every consecutive Sunday after that for 9 more weeks.
NP: Who are the writers coming to Idyllwild this season?
ES: We have a fantastic line up -- Cheryl Crane (Detour), Reyna Grande (The Distance Between Us), Diana Wagman (The Care And Feeding Of Exotic Pets), Lisa Napoli (Radio Shangri-La), Lisa Teasley (Dive), Michael Kearns (The Drama Of AIDS), Steven Reigns (Inheritance), Duff Brenna (Murdering The Mom), and Samantha Dunn (Faith In Carlos Gomez). I will be presenting my new novel, Midnight Rumba, which I work-shopped when I was in The Mark program.
NP: Idyllwild seems to be a very artsy community. What kind of response has the series received?
ES: The community loves it and is very supportive. Whenever I step out of my house at least one person asks me when the series will begin again.
NP: What’s your favorite part of curating this series?
ES: I love everything about it: finding new authors, helping to create the publicity, reading the books, coming up with interesting questions. But, of course, my most favorite part is sitting with authors I admire and asking them everything I always wanted to know about them, their inspirations, their journey, their process.
NP: How has hosting all of the readings helped your journey as a writer?
ES: It has humbled me.
NP: Have you had any surprising or unexpected moments during a talk?
ES: There was a moment when one of the authors, who had written about being part of a cult, was confronted by a current member of that same cult. The other member had a different point of view on things. That was awkward. But for the most part, the authors are a delight and the audience is very kind and respectful­–even during Q & A. The overall feeling of each event is that it is a community effort, it's not about me, it's not about the authors, it's about all of us­­–writers, aspiring writers, and book lovers coming together in celebration. It's a very nice way to spend an afternoon.
NP: Do you have a favorite author event that stands out?
ES: I am always grateful and amazed that the authors drive all the way up to Idyllwild to do me this favor. In that respect, the one who traveled the longest distance wins. That would be Hope Edelman. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with her, but she's no more a favorite than Janet Fitch and Leslie Schwartz, who drove 15 miles fewer. I think Tod Goldberg traveled the shortest distance because he lives in Palm Desert. We laughed the most because the two of us, together, are total clowns. But I can't pick Tod over Hope. So it's an impossible question.  There are events that were important to me not so much because of the authors but because friends from L.A. drove up just to be supportive. That meant a lot to me.