Emerging Writer’s Night at Subterranean Books
by Diana Davis
Question: What would you do it if you attended the September 7 Emerging Writer’s Night at Subterranean Books, and no emerging writers came to read?
A: Examine the location.
B: Converse with another listener.
C: Both of the above.
I chose “C.”
Subterranean Books is a small bookstore located at 6275 Delmar in the U City Loop owned by Kelly Von Plonski. It’s a quaint place filled with creative accessories, including some art work and gift items for sale. I smiled at the five-foot-long set of Harry Potter glasses, cut from corrugated cardboard and painted black, perched on top of the shelving—complete with the white tape placed over its broken nosepiece. “Although we do not carry a large inventory, we can order anything you want,” says employee Alex Weir, who is also a free-lance writer.
At the back of the store, a short flight of steep stairs leads to a small balcony that, with the moving of a some bookshelves and the addition of a few folding chairs, becomes a reading room that seats about 10-12 people. This friendly setting allows speakers the opportunity to practice reading their work before a small audience–a terrific place to gain self-confidence in preparation for larger stages. This was exactly the place to wait, just in case an emerging writer did come to read.
A writer didn’t come, but another listener did – a young writer named Sonia Coney. She lives in the area near Skinker and De Baliviere Avenues. Sonia attended a reading in the spring and enjoyed it immensely. The diversity of readers, then, included two self-published authors, one with a short-story collection and the other a poetry chapbook. Several others read unpublished poetry, and another shared unpublished memoir pieces. Coney came back because she benefitted from hearing others read their works and the lively interaction with other writers. Usually, she is busy at home writing her first novel. She stepped away from her work that evening for some human contact and to regain the enthusiasm she needed to face that solitary chair before her computer.
Emerging Writer’s Night is not the only human contact that helps keep Coney’s creative juices flowing. She also receives guidance and critiques on her novel from Scott Phillips, a local crime fiction writer who volunteers to lead Subterranean’s free writing workshops. Each four-week session explores a different writing style. The class size is limited to eight people. All weekly Tuesday meetings take place at Meshuggah Care (practically next door at 6269 Delmar). You must be able to attend all sessions to apply.
From these workshops, Phillips selects the best piece for the month to be read at during Emerging Writer’s Night. Other reader spots are open to the public, although, the number of readers is usually kept to five. Subterranean posts the readers and their genres on their website. The next reading is scheduled for Wednesday, October 5. If you wish to sign up for the workshops or to be a reader call (314) 862-6100.
Subterranean Books has other events in addition to Emerging Writer’s Night and workshops. One event of special note is that Subterranean Books, in conjunction with the mystery writing convention Bouchercon, is sponsoring an “intimate” Q &A with authors Charlaine Harris and Laurell K. Hamilton to benefit the St. Louis Public Library. The event is being held at Christ Church Cathedral, 1210 Locust Street (across from the Central Library), on Wednesday, September 14 at 6 p.m. (The doors open at 5 p.m.). This is a ticketed event and your ticket price gains you admittance to the one-hour event and also gets you a signed copy of Harris’ Sooki’s Stackhouse Companion or Hamilton’s Hit List. Tickets are available at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/192276. Please specify which signed book you would like. (Walrus Publishing, Inc. will be in attendance to report on this special event.)
Subterranean Books is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturdays; and 12 noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays. The staff at Subterranean Books looks forward to seeing you at one of their events or perhaps just browsing the aisles in their little book store, walking under Harry Potter’s glasses.