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Author Brad Meltzer chats with me.

Author Brad Meltzer chats with me at Book Expo America.

NEW YORK – More than 20,000 publishers, authors, agents, bookstore owners and librarians roamed through Book Expo America 2014 (BEA) at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
I was surprised to learn that the state of Florida was well-represented.
Author Brad Meltzer left his wife and three children in Ft. Lauderdale to spend two days at the event.
“I get to come and say thank you to everyone who is a part of this,” Meltzer explains. “There may be one name on the cover, but only a fool thinks producing a book is a one-person show.”
He slid into a chair in the Hachette Book Group booth shortly before heading out to autograph copies of his new picture book biography, “I Am Rosa Parks.” It joins “I Am Amelia Earhart” and “I Am Abraham Lincoln” in his best-selling series that introduces kids to everyday heroes.
“I noticed my kids calling loud-mouthed sports figures heroes,” says Meltzer, who also hosts and writes “Brad Meltzer’s Decoded” series on The History Channel. “I say being famous is different from being a hero.
“I’ve written fiction, non-fiction, children’s books and comic books,“ he adds. “All of them have one thing in common – my core belief that ordinary people can change the world.”
Meltzer is a seasoned veteran of the trade show, but first-time appearances at BEA can be daunting – even for those experienced in being in the public eye.
For example, Orlando lawyer J. Cheney Mason (best known as Casey Anthony‘s defense attorney) is the author of a new book, “Justice in America.” He arrived at BEA with his wife, Shirley, following an interview at CNN.
“I don’t have any illusions about people coming to see me,” Mason said, eyeing the crowds in the Javits Center. “I’d like to see James Patterson or Frederick Forsyth, myself.”
However, Mason was pleasantly surprised by a line of folks waiting for the 300-page book that he hopes will be used “to educate politicians, judges, lawyers and more importantly, citizens as to what happens in the judicial system.”
“The true story of what happened has never been told,” Mason adds. “I felt other books written about the trial fell substantially short. I started working on mine one year after the verdict [in 2011] but it wasn’t a priority.”
When Mason arrived in the book-signing area, a CNN cameraman turned on lights and began filming the action. Voila – another star was born.
That sort of enthusiasm permeates the convention – an event whose original purpose was partly to give bookstores the chance to order books for the fall season. It has evolved into something equally old-fashioned: a huge gathering for the book industry to talk up titles, showcase high-profile authors and try to build elusive buzz for promising books.
One day, I hope that my book is one of them.