Chris Bohjalian – The Guest Room, Social Media, and a Chicken

New York Times Best Seller author Chris Bohjalian is a class act. The first time I “met” Chris was by telephone. My editor had asked me to interview Chris for an article. The deadline was short and Chris, being Chris, agreed to talk to me on Memorial Day – a holiday where he could have spent time with his family.

Instead he talked with me on the phone for 1.5 hours. The article was written and submitted and Chris became one of my favorite authors.

However, even despite that fantastic phone interview, perhaps my most important connection to Chris is that I named one of our chickens after him. Years ago, I had the (admittedly genius) idea of offering authors the opportunity to have a chicken in my flock named after them in exchange for an interview. Chris was the first to accept my offer.

Chris-Bohjalian was a fine and much loved hen in our flock.

Since then, I’ve had a few chances to see Chris in public while he’s on book tour. Last night I saw him at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord promoting his newest book – The Guest Room (on the NYT Best Sellers List.) If you are an author, do yourself a favor and go see authors on tour. It’s a rare opportunity to see a writer in action and you can ask them *anything* you want (it’s very similar to all the politicians that come to New Hampshire, you’re very welcomed to be here, but you’ll have to answer our questions.)

Chris has got the book tour thing down pat. He started off with a funny story. Last night’s story was basically about how he’s not such a big shot (even though he is.) It was a great way to endear himself with his audience.

He then did a reading from his book. I have to say it’s the first time I’ve heard a man “become” a 19 year old Russian escort, but you know, Chris pulled it off. It was a great read with the expected result that I (and everyone in the audience) wanted to know more.

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After the reading, it was question time. People asked about some of his previous books (Transistor Radio and Midwives came up a few times.) and how he got ideas. I asked him about Social Media and how he kept it from taking over his day (by the way he begins his writing day at 6 and writes until noon with a goal of reaching at least 1,000 words.)

Chris manages his own social media, he doesn’t have an assistant (so, as he answered one person’s question, when he responds to your comment, that’s really him responding.) But because he knows social media can be a time-suck (my words not his, he called it a time-vortex which is why he’s the best seller and I’m not) he schedules a lot of his posts the night before. He looks at social media early in the morning and then again later in the afternoon BUT NOT WHILE HE IS WRITING.

This is a bit of advice that *all* writers can take to heart and something that I’m still learning (read forcing myself) to do.

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After the talk, Chris signed books. When I approached the table and said who I was, he replied with “oh – the chicken lady!” and insisted on a photo together and then signed my book.

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Of course, he asked how the chickens were doing. I had to tell him that a coyote had decimated our flock this summer.

“Oh no, did my chicken survive? “

I had to break the news that much to my dismay, Chris-Bohjalian –the chicken was no more. But, I told him, I planned on getting new chicks in the spring and I had a pretty good feeling that one of them was going to be named Chris-Bohjalian-II.

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Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

10 thoughts on “Chris Bohjalian – The Guest Room, Social Media, and a Chicken

  1. Love this post, thanks for sharing. And the advice is good. My first book was published earlier this year and with that comes speaking. I get nervous about it and never thought to analyze what other great writer/speakers do. If I can just remember there is a method to the madness, it will help me.

    • I analyze presentations all the time (and I use that information in my writing classes.) There is a skill to captivating an audience. Some people have it, others don’t. Chris has it.

      Wendy

  2. I’ve not heard of him but his book looks thoroughly captivating. Thank you for sharing. Social media…must learn time control or to set a timer, it’s good to see how others deal with all the inflow.

    • You might have heard of him, his first real break-out book was “Midwives” it was an Oprah book and was written so convincingly from a woman’s point of view that many people (including myself) originally though that “Chris” was a woman.

      What I really respect about Chris’ writing is that he never wants to write the “same book twice.” Every story is uniquely different from the last.

      Wendy

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