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Friday, 16 October 2015 01:01

An Evening with Anthony Doerr

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On October 14, I went to listen to Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See, speak at Shenendehowa High School East. It was actually sponsored by the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library, but they had so many people register, they needed to move it to the high school auditorium, which can seat 1,100 people. There were probably 800 people there and that was the largest author event the library has held yet. The event had been booked before he won the Pulitzer Prize.

I went with my mom, Rita, who usually is my partner at the author events, along with my fellow book lovers, Julie Guzi and Karen Patchell. Tony, as he was addressed, is a very tall, thin and bald man. I thought he was much older when I read his book, but he is only 41. He had a very quirky way about him, but in a genuine and very intelligent manner. He began with photos from his youth and explained how he took a ton of different classes in college, not liking the fact that he had to claim a major. He began to record things in his life that amazed and interested him and he was very inspired by the scale of items in relation to the world around him. He had another way of looking at time. According to Doerr, "It is OK to stand silently in the weather and feel the sunlight."


Questions preoccupied him as he saw the world in an unfamiliar way. Isn't that what makes a great writer? We ask questions like "What if?" or "Why does that happen?" or "Is this moral or fair or righteous?" Doerr asked these questions, but after writing for a number of years, he realized that in order to reach readers, he had to relate things to the human eye. He wanted to help the reader feel awe, like he did when he looked at the world in a microscopic manner.

All the Light We Cannot See was inspired by the idea of the radio and cell phone and the magic of using it to have a conversation abaout Keanu Reeves. When he watched a man on a train talking on an old cell phone about one of the Matrix movies get mad because the call dropped, he understood that the magic of this technology is gone. We don't appreciate what we do not see and there is so much light that we don't know about. He wanted the reader to see things that we now take for granted.

I was amazed by how much research he did for this book and it shows in the details. Doerr said that, "Writing this novel was like going through a college course again." I could tell he enjoyed the research about radios and gemstones. He learned about radiowaves and the invasion of Paris. Some of the images he showed were quite disturbing, but these photos that he kept on his desk were his constant inspiration. The question that arose when writing this book was, "Is it right to do something because everyone else is doing it?"

Doerr explained that the truth is more complicated than he thought and writing is looking beyond your ego. He said that, "Writing is about deepening our experierence of life and nudging the world toward goodness."

This was very interesting and compelling to me because one of the character's ending in the book was a bit controversial in that many in the audience weren't happy with how this character's outcome. Since anyone who hadn't read the book basically had it spoiled, I won't ruin it, but it made me wonder about the moral responsibility of a writer. Do we have a responsibility to make a character pay for his or her crimes and right a wrong, especially one that has had such a negative impact on the world? Even though Doerr wants readers to see goodness and light in this book, he felt morally responsible in making sure that his characters paid for their sins and were rewarded for their benevolence. 

Anthony Doerr was fantastic, and I really enjoyed hearing him speak and meeting him. Mom and I waited for almost an hour to get our books signed and it paid off with a photo. I highly recommend All the Light We Cannot See and purchased About Grace, which I am looking forward to reading. 

What did you like best about his book and who was your favorite character? I loved Marie Laure and also her great uncle. They had such a lovely relationship as she also had with her father. Hope to hear your thoughts!


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  • "Your book is excellent – a picture of Celtic landscape and adventure remained in my mind long after I completed the novel - I am looking forward to your sequel!"


  • "Cammarata's action packed storytelling never lets up. The urgency of the pacing draws the reader into Maecha's world quickly, but it is the fierceness of her loyalty and love that defines the narrative. Well-developed details ground the magical elements and make a world where people time travel in their dreams and are friends with gods believable. Jumping from the ancient past to modern day is at first jarring, but as the characters' lives weave together, their complicated relationships deepen the meaning of the story and give it a powerful sense of destiny fulfilled. "

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  • "I bought The Warrior Within at a fundraiser although it was not the type of book I usually purchase. I have been missing out..! I was immediately hooked and disappointed that it took so long for Eyes of the Goddess to be published. Please know that I purchased Eyes of the Goddess through Amazon and appreciate how quickly it was delivered. I am amazed a the skill of the author in being able to transition from the present to the past without losing the reader in the process. I love the Celtic aspect and the storyline continues to keep me addicted to this trilogy. I am eagerly waiting for the next (and unfortunately the last) book to be published. A whole new world of books has been opened to me though my initial purchase of The Warrior Within"

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  • "I loved learning about the Celtic lore that is written about in this book! Can't wait to read the next one :)"


  • "I really enjoyed this book. I love Celtic stories. I really enjoyed the dreaming aspect to the book as well. How in our dreams we can go anywhere . The characters in this book , knew that and took advantage of it.

    I had read "Warriors Within", which was her first book. I looked forward to reading this sequel (Eyes of the Goddess) and was not disappointed. I look forward to her next book!!"

    V. McCarney

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  • "I usually read mysteries or non fiction. Every once in a while I like to try something different. If you like J.R.R. Tolkien or the Chronicles of Narnia this is a good fit. I enjoyed the story line and the character development. I wonder if and when book 2 will be available?"


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  • "Eyes of the Goddess, Book Two of the Fianna Cycle, takes up where Warriors Within left off. Present-day New York City is entwined with 3rd century Ireland by their respective inhabitants, Michaela Sommers and Maecha Ruadh Mac Art, heiress to the throne of Tara. Michaela is involved in a search for the drug lord who killed her father, Police Narcotics Officer Jack Sommers, while Maecha is about to embark on a voyage to Alba (ancient Scotland) to free her father, King Cormac, who had been kidnapped by the Picts. The two worlds are connected by the dream travel of Michaela, the chief druid Finnius Amergin, and Natalie, a child who exists in NYC but is destined to save ancient Ireland from ruin. Cammarata's keen knowledge of Celtic lore and skill in martial arts combine to create an exciting story of ancient battles, gods and magic, honor, loyalty and love. Young adults who love a good adventure story will certainly love this one. While Eyes of the Goddess can be read as a stand-alone, readers will want to start with Warriors Within to experience the full epic tale."

    Joan Weiskotten

    Young Adult Librarian
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    For teens in grades 6-8th or home-school equivalent.


    Learn all the different topics and techniques you can use in your personalized journal. No experience necessary, just the desire to express yourself!

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    Registration opens 8/28/17 at 9:30am

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    WEDNESDAYS, NOVEMBER 1, 18, & 15 FROM  5-6PM

    Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library: Jo Piracci Board Room

    Teens in grades 6-8 or homeschool equivalent

    Do you have a story in you, but don’t know how to start, are stuck in the middle or can’t figure out how to end? Join award-winning author Janine De Tillio Cammarata for a writing workshop, which will focus on creating and finishing short stories that may be expanded into a novel! All level of writer’s welcome! Each class builds upon the previous so commitment to all three classes is recommended.

    Bring a notebook and pen

    Register at: CPH Library Website


    Must register for each workshop separately:

    WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13--Program Room C

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    FROM 6:30-8:30pm


    Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library: Piracci Board Room

    Adults 18+

    Whether it's in a notebook, blog, or sketchpad journaling can help you lead a whole and fulfilling life. It's a way to keep track of goals, life activities, dreams, and is very fun! Learn the many ways to express yourself! Each workshop will be different so come to them all!





    Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library: Piracci Board Room

    For teens in grades 9-12 or home-school equivalent


    REGISTRATION OPENS 8/28/2017 at 9:30am!

    Fiction writing class for short stories or novels. All levels of writers are welcome. Will touch on character development, setting, dialogue, plot, and more. Group critique is optional, but encouraged. Janine De Tillio Cammarata is an award-winning writer with three published books and has been teaching writing classes for many years.

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    Register at: CPH Library Website