By Richard Barker
Special to the Town Crier
Eduardo Santiago was the guest author at the Jan. 30 meeting of the Idyllwild Community Center Bookclub, held monthly at the Creekstone Inn. Santiago’s new novel, “Midnight Rumba,” had been chosen as the club’s book for January, and the novelist was gracious enough to agree to attend the discussion.
He just returned from Boston, where he was the recipient of the New England Book Festival’s Novel of the Year award. The wordsmith also agreed to be a guest lecturer at the Idyllwild Arts Academy creative writing class, which he did this past Monday.
As is the custom, the first hour of Bookclub was spent eating and socializing. Most of “Midnight Rumba” takes place in Havana, so Cuban food was served. Already having been captivated by the enchanting novel, all in attendance were spellbound by Santiago’s entertaining and enlightening tales of life in Cuba, where he lived until age 9.
He recounted his recent visit to his childhood home, which, under Communist rule, had been given to another family when Santiago’s family escaped Cuba. He told of what things had changed during his four-decade absence, and — just as tellingly — what things had endured.
In addition to being a writer and writing teacher, Santiago also created the popular Idyllwild Author Series that takes place every summer since 2011. Every Sunday for 10 weeks, Santiago — ever the raconteur — interviews a different author.
When asked how the 2014 series was shaping up he had both good and bad news to report. He said the series has gained such momentum that getting authors to attend keeps getting easier every year, and he said he now has literary agents calling him eager to get their writer in the line-up. But the series faces a challenge this year in that the local hotel that had been providing accommodations to the visiting authors is no longer able to do so.
But this story has a happy ending.
One of the long-time members of the ICC Bookclub owns the Creekstone Inn, and offered up her inn to the visiting authors. She asked for anonymity in this article, preferring the sponsorship of the Author Series be credited to the ICC Bookclub.
The Creekstone is especially ideal due to its close proximity to Café Aroma, which hosts the weekly event. It appears that year four of the Author Series, which kicks off at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 25 has the potential to be the best one yet.