Standing room only, fans waving signs, book tour t-shirts? If you woke up smiling today then you probably made it to Brad Meltzer’s Borders appearance last night in Birmingham. Who knew that the author and star of The History Channel’s Decoded could be… well, so damn funny?
Brad Meltzer was in Birmingham to promote his recently released thriller The Inner Circle and plug his television show, but finessed the push by quickly turning the literary crowd to laughter. Clearly at ease with the mike, Meltzer only gained momentum as he discussed the evolution of his latest book and the cool factor of his show Decoded.
Brad Meltzer is all about history, and the seed of The Inner Circle was planted when the author received a call from Homeland Security. He was asked to be part of a project consisting of “out of the box thinkers” who brainstorm ways that terrorists might strike our cities. Not only did Meltzer find the reality of potential attacks horrifying, but the sessions also led him to the topic of spy rings.
The fact of the matter is that George Washington had a spy ring. When the author inquired how long that ring lasted, the response was “who says it still doesn’t exist?” Wild premise for a book, no? So Meltzer ran with it, and the passing of presidential secrets is the spine that solidly holds his book, The Inner Circle, together.
As for pushing Decoded, Meltzer had a hoot. Admittedly, with the DVD screen set up it appeared as if Borders had us queued up for a forced episode watch. Not so. The “episode” was a walk through of self-poking fun by Meltzer as he emceed his staged poses from the show. Meltzer’s Thinker variations were hilarious, and as the opening scenes from Decoded played on, Meltzer assured us that he was highly trained in such posturing and warned of the dangers of attempting such staid postures at home.
Though Meltzer is clearly connected at the top, he is clearly not all about Brad. When he was asked about Minnie, one of his Inner Circle characters who is afflicted with a certain syndrome (no plot spoilers here), the author shared his desire to draw attention to the obscure condition in his book. In that way, it creates an awareness for readers that normally would never have exposure or knowledge of the syndrome’s existence.
As for the book tour t-shirts? “Why not?” asks Meltzer. Musicians go on tour and sell t-shirts all the time. Holding up the black tee with the hard-core print and the cities detailed on the back, Meltzer said, “Look, where else can you find Birmingham, Michigan and Boca Raton on the same tour?” But it’s not all just for fun, all proceeds go to City Year, a program near and dear to Meltzer’s heart.
In the end, it all goes back to history for Meltzer. He informed the appreciative crowd that “Michigan is where my history exists.” As a University of Michigan grad he tries to incorporate the Ann Arbor institution somewhere in all of his books but says it “loud and proud” in The Inner Circle. Sharing thanks upon thanks with his friends, family, and fans, Meltzer set the jokes aside and wrapped it up with one final serious moment: “I find words for a living and I can’t find the words to thank you.”
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-Post by Megan Shaffer