I knew that Anne Rodgers was a good writer. A good reporter. A good editor.
She listens well and asks the right questions. She never pretends to be the all-time expert.
For 24 years, I’ve also known that Anne was good with people. All kinds of people. That’s one reason why, long after she moved from her beloved native Texas to Florida, we’ve remained good friends.
What I discovered Friday at BookPeople is that Anne has become an excellent public speaker. Funny. Informative. Good with an anecdote but also responding to an uncomfortable or inept question from the audience.
About 75 people showed up to hear Anne talk about “Kiss and Tell,” her first book, which delves into the sexual lives of hundreds of South Florida women.
As Anne assured her conservative mother in advance, it’s a candid book, but not vulgar.
Introduced by another top-notch storyteller and speaker, Sarah Bird, Anne related how a reader of her former column in the Palm Beach Post called to talk about her gynecologist, who had offered clear, nonjudgemental advice on sex.
Dr. Maureen Whelihan became Anne’s collaborator on a survey about sexual attitudes and behaviors taken by the gynecologist’s patients. They then culled through the results and chose women ages 15 to 97 for Anne to interview in depth.
Some of what they discovered is not surprising: Women like romance, they are hormonally slow to arouse, they are like to kiss. Inevitably, they stumbled on much more intriguing stories, like the woman who had sex with her husband three times a day without exception for more than 25 years. Or the woman who experienced her first orgasm in her 80s.
Anne’s polished stories were compelling, but so was her nimble performance responding to questions that, from my folding chair upstairs at BookPeople, sometimes sounded either vaguely hostile or ill-informed. Golden-maned Anne, who looks fantastic, by the way, treated the respondants with respect and humor. I’ve rarely seen an author that adept at turning around potentially explosive questions.
Ages ago, Anne served as a key mentor for me in the newspaper business. I’m deliriously happy to report that she’s made the leap into the book world like a seasoned pro.
“Kiss and Tell” is available everywhere online and in stores, including Blue Willow Books (disclosure: owned by my whip-smart sister Valerie Koehler) in Houston, where Anne speaks July 22.