It’s hard to believe that only one week ago I was in Decatur, among piles of books, and swarms of book lovers. But I was, and I had a great time. Thank you, Tom Bell, for organizing the festival and for inviting me to participate!!
I arrived in Atlanta around noon on Friday, and bumped into cookbook author, Nancie McDermott at the airport. I knew from her bio that she’d been to Japan, and I found out later that her husband is from Taiwan. I think I met all of the women writers married to foreigners at the Decatur Book Festival, including Cara Black, who met her Japanese husband while teaching English in Tokyo, and Christina Thompson, an instructor at Harvard whose marriage to a blue-collar Maori figures into her new book, Come Ashore and We Will Kill and Eat You All.
After checking into my hotel, I had chicken curry and fried plantains at Julie’s Cafe, a little Jamaican joint just down the street from the Courthouse, then made my way to Agnes Scott College for the Decatur Writer’s Workshop. I sat in on the Writing for Children workshop, as presented by Cheryl Klein, an editor at Scholastic who served as the continuity editor for the Harry Potter books. (She said that J.K. Rowling is a very nice person).
Later that evening, I attended Billy Collins’s keynote speech. Here is where I confess that I’d never read Collins’s poetry, though of course I’d heard of him. A few people had expressed their jealousy when they found out I’d be hearing him speak. Now I know why. He held an audience of 1,200 captive for an hour or so with his dry wit and casual delivery. It was a wonderful evening.
I got to chatting with a couple of women who were sitting next to me. They gave me a ride back to my hotel and told me that John McCain has chosen a woman, the governor of Alaska and mother of five to be his running mate. A memorable occasion indeed.