This past Friday night (Oct. 7th, 2011), I was able to make my way over to the Newington’s Barnes & Noble to see Tom Ryan, the author of the new book Following Atticus (and the blog The Adventures of Tom & Atticus), speak about the book, read some passages from the new publication as well as meet the audience. Unfortunately for me, this is much later than I had anticipated meeting Tom on his book tour. I had originally planned to attend his kickoff signing at Jabberwocky Bookshop in Newburyport, MA on September 23rd, but instead came down with an illness which prohibited me from going. So, instead of seeing him at the beginning of his book tour, I was able to see him toward the end.
Myself, Atticus M. Finch & Tom Ryan at Barnes & Noble last Friday night!
I got there early, about 6:30pm and the event was scheduled to start at 7:00pm. It was no surprise that I was not the first one there. Many of the seats had already been taken and the buzz in the room was excitement to see Atticus in person. A few of the older women in the audience continually turned toward the door to see if they could catch a glimpse of Tom and Atticus entering the store. The lady next to me was proud to show me pictures on her phone of her miniature schnauzer who she proudly claimed to look “just like Atticus”. I must say, the resemblance was very similar. Finally, Tom arrived and before he even got through the glass entrance doors of Barnes & Noble, you could hear the excited women whisper: “Does he have Atticus? Yes, he does! He does have Atticus!”
My copy of Following Atticus!
Tom stood in front of an audience of about 30 to 40 people and cradled little Atticus in one arm as he looked carefully around the room at his listeners. He started out by describing the town in which he once lived, Newburyport, where he owned and operated a newspaper, the Undertoad. He explained how he ended up nose deep in the political scene due to corruption of the city officials. He used the Undertoad to voice truth and fairness to the citizens of Newburyport, but paid a price in doing so. He explained that he had his tires slashed on a regular basis, his windshield was smashed, his exhaust pipe was filled with insulation and he was even presented with death threats. Aside from these horrible things, though, what impacted him the most was the stress and paranoia that this lifestyle brought him.
Map of the 48, 4,000 Footers in the front and rear cover of the book
He continued on with his talk and explained that he took in a miniature schnauzer named Max, who became a great companion for him. Unfortunately, Max’s life was cut short by seizures and the two of them only spent a short time together. He then got Atticus M. Finch, another miniature schnauzer from a selfless woman who wanted the dog to have a better life than she could offer him. Tom and Atticus immediately bonded and the two were inseparable.
Tom signed the book, and stamped Atticus' paw print inside!
Tom and Atticus joined Tom’s brothers on a hike up to Mount Garfield one day. From there, they fell in love with the mountains and what they had to offer. Tom and Atticus climbed all 48, 4000 footers in a short time and then returned to work on the winter ones. Tom went on to talk about the deaths of a few close friends, the impact on him and how the mountains helped in more ways than he could have imagined. He discussed how Atticus became sick with cataracts and cancer, and how overwhelming support and a spiritual visit helped them both overcome the illnesses. I will leave the ending of this chapter out, as you (the reader) should read about it in the book. Tom did mention that this part of the story has been televised on an Animal Planet special. I’ll definitely need to try to DVR this the next time it’s on.
The book has some excellent color photos in it!
After telling his stories and reading some wonderful passages from the book, Tom opened up the floor to some questions. He then presented a member of the audience with a tee shirt in congratulations for just finishing the 48, 4,000 footers, a great accomplishment in my eyes. Finally, they held a raffle for an audience member to win a nice doggy bed, blanket and other great doggy goodies. An hour and a half had gone by, but it felt like he had just got there. He had the audience’s undivided attention the whole time and I believe the crowd loved him. He was comfortable speaking, his readings were great and he even made some really funny jokes.
More of the color photos!
At the end, I was glad to get in line with many of the other audience members to get my copy of Following Atticus signed. It was more than that though. I felt like I was meeting a friend for the first time as I have had many conversations with Tom over his blog platform and through the digital hiking community. He was kind enough to let me get a picture of them with me, and signed my new copy of his book. I’ve been a long time follower of Tom’s Blog, The Adventures of Tom & Atticus, and I had no doubt that Following Atticus was going to be an instant hit. I’ve already read the first chapter and it already has me hooked, although I’m not surprised.
I must say that this book signing event was awesome! From beginning to end, Tom had the audience interested and riveted. I give it two thumbs up in my book (no pun intended)! I hope to have a book review of Following Atticus out in the next few weeks! I'm a slow reader, so please, be patient :)