Author Amy Wallace (right) talked to a capacity crowd at INK Book Gathering on Sunday afternoon about her memoir, “Sorcerer’s Apprentice, My Life with Carlos Castaneda.” For the second year, Eduardo Santiago (left) organized the summer series author talks. Wallace was the final author for 2012. Photo by Barbara Reese


Eduardo Santiago closes the 2012 Idyllwild Author Series. Photo by Careena Chase

It was standing room only for the final author in the second year of Eduardo Santiago’s Idyllwild Authors Series. “We were scrambling trying to find chairs,” said Santiago of the attendance at Amy Wallace’s Sunday, July 22 appearance at INK Book Gathering.


Wallace, daughter of Irving Wallace, and author of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: My Life with Carlos Castaneda,” was the last of 12 authors in a series Santiago designed to draw attention to and promote the business of Idyllwild’s only independent bookstore. “A town without a bookstore is a town without a soul,” said Santiago, who launched the series last year with no money, just a belief that the store (formerly B’s Mountain of Books) needed support and that an author series would bring attention and attendance.

“It’s been such a moving experience to have the community reach out and support this,” said Santiago. “The seeds have been planted. It’s growing. This year has been exciting because of the turnout and the diversity of the authors.”

Santiago, at the beginning of each interview, takes time to thank key supporters that have helped fund the series (PEN Center USA), feed the authors (Café Aroma), house the authors (Strawberry Creek Inn), design ads (Pete and Betty Anderson) and provide a home for the series (Julie Johnson, INK owner). But in looking back over this year, it’s the audience to whom he is especially grateful.

“If they did not show up, it would be just me and the author talking,” he said. “The appreciation of the audience, showing up each week, that means a lot to me.”

Santiago is an author and a creative writing teacher, as are many of those who have come this season and last. Some have been his teachers, like Steve Heller, master in fine arts creative writing chair at Antioch University Los Angeles and Tod Goldberg, master in fine arts creative writing chair at University of California, Riverside’s low residency program, but said Santiago, “There are no preinterviews. When they’re in the hot seat [at the Authors Series], I get to ask whatever I want. I want it to be spontaneous.”

Santiago is an entertaining interviewer, bringing both a writer’s understanding of the creative process and a sense of humor to the events. “And everybody this year has been amazing — punctual, interesting, funny, open to whatever.”

For next year, Santiago said, “I have dreams. My dance card [authors for next year] is almost full, but it’s too early to announce. I’d like to see some improvements, like a deck at the back of the bookstore that I could build [if agreeable with the landlord and Johnson] to make patrons more comfortable; maybe scheduling the events later on Sunday so it’s not as hot; perhaps, with more financial support, bringing authors from other cities. I keep wondering how I can improve this,” he said. “If I’m able to get a little more [support] then I can provide a little more.”

While Santiago created the series for the town, the energy of the series moves in both directions. He noted that living part-time in Idyllwild and making so many friends through this series has positively impacted his career. “I’ve written the book for a musical and tomorrow [July 24] we’re having a first table read with a bunch of actors in Los Angeles,” he said. “The energy I get from Idyllwild has made me so much more courageous.”

Eduardo Santiago’s and Paula Priamos, at the Idyllwild Authors Series (IAS), examines whether a shyster defense attorney, disbarred for embezzlement, can also be a good father. The father in this case is hers, and her memoir “The Shyster’s Daughter”. The IAS was held at Café Aroma on Saturday afternoon. Photo by Jenny Kirchner


  1. Are you kidding me! "Formerly Bee's Moiuntain of Books"! What about INK Bookgathering, the name of the store now! Without INK the series would not have happened. How ungrateful and egocentric is this article. You make it sound as if Julie and her staff don't exist. Where is the article on the bookstore? INK Bookgather is a permanent fixture in this town, the authors' series is a once a year event, wouldn't it behoove you to support a current local business and the events they have all year round? Reading this article, it's apparent to me that INK Bookgathering doesn't even deserve mention even though is was used as the platform to launch Eduardo's presence in the community and market himself, all at the expense of Julie, Mary & David. Wow.

  2. The disappointment that I felt when I read this article and the ones before is beyond words – but I'll use words anyway. I saw how, week after week, the staff at the bookstore would work and prepare for the Author Series every Sunday. And yet, week after week, they were left with this unaknowledged. The most they received was an empty "Thank you" from the moderator, if he remembered. Having attended four of the Author Series events and seeing how the moderator took the spotlight from the store – and at time the author's themselves – without giving more than a second thought to the store, I was let down. Yes, the moderator did an okay job. But what about the bookstore? The one the moderator claimed to be doing this for. What about the owner, the employees and all the work they put into it?
    If the moderator wants to be a part of our small hometown community, he needs to leave his LA ego in LA. He needs to acknowledge the efforts of his neighbors and be a part of our hometown team.

  3. Let’s not trash someome who’s trying to bring business and to the bookstore (and attention to the hill) and keep it alive. The article is about the author series, not about the staff of INK. Mr. Santiago was always gracious in thanking all the people (including the INK staff) that make the author series possible. As he always says, a town needs a bookstore, and that’s why he does the series. Believe me, he doesn’t need INK to stage these events. I look forward to next years authors.

  4. Hey, people are talking about the Idyllwild Authors' Series and INK. Right on. We, at INK, appreciate all the people who supported the series and made it happen, including Eduardo, PEN Center, Cafe Aroma and Strawberry Creek Inn, as well as the amazing authors and audience members. I appreciate that there are customers of ours who also care enough to speak out, when they felt we were slighted. I know I'm always looking for the best, so read the above comments for the acknowledgement of the bookstore to add to all the other coverage, not as an attack. I loved having the series here at the store, seeing our community turn out for the love of books, and I look forward to seeing you all in the near future! Thank you all!

  5. I find the crabs-in-a-bucket nature of the negative remarks above bizarre and unfortunate. Pillorying Mr. Santiago is akin to saying Casey Abrams' success detracts from Cafe Aroma. The result of the collaboration between Mr. Santiago, INK Book Gathering, and all the other players is a dynamic, edgy, and meaningful diversion and I hate to see its brilliance so undermined.

  6. Oh the joys of posting one's thoughts with no last name! Rather like opening a bank account in the Caymans, then pleading poverty to the IRS. The sheer bliss of not being held accountable for your words! OK, I'll play!

    How did Ms. Julie Johnson put it again, in the latest issue of the Town Crier (which led me to this illuminating page, a veritable treasure trove of duplicitous opinion, torrid fiction, and possibly even a fact)? "Complaining about our community is a right that we can all indulge in…" Indeed, anyone who has (as I have, dear reader) braved the omnipresent cloud of tobacco smoke that hugs INK's porch and, thus, endured the surly glares from the INK's staff, busily enjoying a cigarette break, by asking for a little service is sure to have overheard the "complaining about our community" arising from that porch's denizens daily (and nightly).

    I wish I could say I was shocked or surprised to read (in the most recent print edition of the Town Crier) the complaints about Mr. Eduardo Santiago, the volunteer who organized the Idyllwild Authors Series, but alas, I have been a homeowner on The Hill long enough to know that any time a volunteer steps up to do something new and different for our community, a small cadre of people who sit passively (too busy smoking, perhaps?) and do nothing are going to criticize the effort. (Honestly, who knew an innocent Lilac or Lemon Lily could generate so much ill will?)

    What DID shock me was to to read that the Authors Series failed to generate any sales for INK. Firstly because I believe (and have evidence in the form of credit card statement to the contrary) that that is an outright lie. Secondly, I am most curious to know how one Ms. Laurie Burckin of Cedar Glen is so intimately acquainted with INK's daily sales figures. What a mystery? One assumes she is not on staff. Perhaps she is staff once-removed (I must consult a genealogist on that designation) but one doesn't wish to conjecture about the close personal ties in a small community such as ours. What one can conjecture safely, though, is that only the owner or her staff would know sales figures, so one can only assume that either Ms. Burckin of Cegar Glen scandalously invented her information OR someone on the INK staff was "complaining about our" sales figures, yes? (There is a "Mary" on staff at INK, as well as a "Mary" posting comments above. Such a lot of Marys, it sets a mind reeling! Draw conclusions if you must, dear reader, but absent no more evidence than I good hunch, I must have faith in the goodness of our neighbors.)


  7. The claim of insufficient sales is further baffling because I have in front of me approximately $138 in credit card receipts that are directly connected to the Authors Series, and that amount does not include the purchases made in cash. One assumes that profits generated from those sales go to pay the staff at INK, and said staff would be grateful for my trade. (One assumes, but one may well be wrong. Again, dear reader, only a hunch, and absent clear evidence, one must have faith!) The INK staff does get paid, correct? One assumes they do not volunteer to hang out on the porch at INK, they do not donate hours and hours of their time with no expectation of recompense like, oh, say Mr. Santiago (whom I know only vaguely, but by my observation seems endlessly energetic and enthusiastic in promoting INK and, to the best of my knowledge, earns not a single penny from from his thankless exertions, nor any other kind of return on the investments he personally makes to ensure the success of this effort to support INK and the cause of literature in our warm community.)

    Since the money I have spent at INK apparently is insufficient to attract the attention of Ms. Burckin of Cedar Glen (or her mysterious source, a veritable Idyllwildian Deep Throat, such a font of sales figures!), I think the next time I am inclined to spend money in town, I shall go elsewhere to spend it. And the next time I am inclined to purchase a book, I shall do that at a retailer who acknowledges, appreciates and respects our financial relationship.

    Now back to that point of paid staff versus volunteers (how I wander!), and the staff not being thanked sufficiently from the podium. (Which, by the way, they were when I was present. One only can assume the staff, or their proxy Ms. Burckin of Cedar Glen, were on the porch smoking when accolades were bestowed and, thus, missed hearing their names.) That's why you get paychecks, dears. Is cold, hard cash (a portion of it from my own bank account) not thanks enough? Because if it isn't, I fear the bigger, wider world holds many unpleasant surprises for you. One wonders, as well, how many of us who hold down paid positions expect the public or the press to show up and thank us for performing the bare minimum requirements of our jobs (and, one might point out, the INK staff faithfully and valiantly resists the urge to expend a single ounce of energy more than is required – smoking so drains one's energy, there is hardly enough spark left to light the next one!). Is that a Gen Y or a Millennial belief, that expectation that the world owes one a paycheck (primarily for enjoying tobacco on a porch) and ADDITIONALLY it owes one a thank you card for showing up?

    On that note of gratitude (how I wander), the INK staff seem grudgingly unable to confer what they, pardon me, what Ms. Burckin of Cedar Glen suggests they most desperately crave. Aside from a terribly tardy letter in the Town Crier (what would Miss Manners say?), which one suspects might never have been written had not members of our community responded to the tirades of Ms. Burckin of Cedar Glen and the mysterious Mary, INK would never have thanked Mr. Santiago (most importantly) or the several members of the business community who donated goods and services in support of INK's business enterprise. Certainly neither Ms. Johnson nor her staff ever did so publicly, not at the season's final event, nor at any event prior that I attended (yet she forcefully, regularly, weekly exhorted me to add my email address to her mailing list). Though, one notes, the INK staff did enjoy the baked goods Mr. Santiago faithfully provided. Surely thank you cards were sent from Ms. Johnson and her INK staff to Mr. Santiago, to Aroma and to the Strawberry Creek Inn, correct? Perhaps fresh-cut flowers? A box of chocolates? A fine wine from Temecula? Only a horrible postal system tragedy could have prevented their prompt delivery!

    The Authors Series was a team effort, as Ms. Johnson suggests in her rebuttal to Ms. Betty Anderson's rebuttal to Ms. Burckin of Cedar Glen's rebuttal to Mr. Marshall Smith's article in the Town Crier. I would suggest to Ms. Johnson that, in the future, her staff join the team. They may want to begin by setting up extra chairs when the Authors Series attracts overflow crowds, instead of looking to INK's current and potential customers to perform that task for themselves. It's just simple hospitality.

    In the meantime, I suggest that Ms. Johnson encourage her staff and Ms. Bruckin of Cedar Glen to locate and read a copy of the book "Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service" from the Disney Institute if they truly desire to turn the opportunity Mr. Santiago has created for them into financial gain for their business enterprise.

  8. Oh dear readers, and the mystery deepens! Ms. Laurie Burckin of Cedar Glen, so knowledgeable and so intimately engaged in the inner workings of our own literary community despite the nearly 100 miles that lie between her fair village and our own community, fails to appear in any one of a variety of Internet search engines in which her name and town are entered! How odd! There is more to be discovered there, dear reader, more to be discovered, depend upon it!

  9. Oh how common. NOW some unnamed person from our community is attempting to mount a voting war over our little conversation here. How crass, how gauche, how tacky! One must just look away and focus instead on the beautiful things in life. Ah well, what does one expect from people who confuse words with cudgels?