By Melissa Burciaga
On Friday, October 23, 2015, the San Carlos Branch Public Library hosted author Laura Riley’s presentation of her novel. This event started at 2 p.m. and ended an hour later, which in my opinion wasn’t enough time to discuss the subjects in Tell Me of Brave Women. I was told by one of the women at the event that the library hosts authors every last Friday of the month. There were only ten people who attended the event, including Riley, which I thought was quite sad. I felt that more people should have been there, especially because the subject of Riley’s novel, abuse, affects too many women. It was no surprise that, all but one of the attendees were women and it would have been all women if Riley’s husband had not been there.
The presentation started with Riley remaining silent for what felt like an eternity. I thought to myself, “Maybe she feels disappointed that there’s not many people”. I already felt nervous prior to arriving, because it’s not every day that one gets to meet an author. When I saw Riley sitting there with a blank stare in her eyes, my anxiety started escalating and I began to feel my heart thump rapidly. Moments later, one of the women found the courage to say a few words, and that was when Riley explained to us that she does this at her presentations. She said that she liked to do this because it raises a person’s anxiety when they see someone sitting there motionless, and anxiety is part of abuse. She does this, so that the attendees can put themselves in the victim’s shoes because she thought that they had never had an experience like this, boy was she wrong. Part of me wanted to speak up and tell my story, but I dared not to. Riley said that many of these women are good at camouflaging and she’s right, no one would imagine the secrets that one hides behind this smile.
Since this is Riley’s first novel, she shared with us the difficulties of writing. One of her greatest struggles was finding an editor, because she did not know that there were different types of editors out there. Riley said that one of the editors told her that you don’t put two spaces after a period which I thought was odd. Most of the women laughed and said that they also wrote this way. I couldn’t understand why they would do that, but she explained that back then that was the correct way to write. Luckily for her, she had the means to contract an agent to help her publish her book. She looked at me and said that people my age could easily self-publish books. She pointed out that being an older writer is a disadvantage and that being a woman is too.
I randomly stumbled across this event, and I am glad this happened because I never would have found out about the novel had I not gone to it. Although I had not read Tell Me of Brave Women, I thought that the idea behind it was excellent. Even though it is a touchy subject to explain, it should be done in order for more women to learn and understand what these women have been through. I look forward to reading the novel and passing it on to the women around me, you never know who may need some encouragement in their lives.