So back to the Decatur Book Festival…
I started out my morning with breakfast at a funky little cafe. At the two tables across from me, there were two Asian/Caucasian couples and their children. My family would fit right in, I thought, wondering how I could persuade my husband to move.
When I wandered back to my hotel, I passed throngs of little girls dressed up like Madeline. they were lining up for the Madeline parade. I was torn between the parade, Nancie McDermott’s baking demonstration at Cook’s Warehouse, and a presentation by Randa Jarrar and Hadjii. I opted for the latter. I’ve been excited about Jarrar’s work ever since I read her story “You Are a 14-Year-Old Arab Chick Who Just Moved to Texas” and I’d already purchased her novel A Map of Home.
I introduced myself to Randa, and to my surprise she remembered me from MySpace. There were only a handful of people there to hear her speak, which taught me my first lesson: The number of people in the audience/number of books sold at the event has nothing to do with the quality or success of the book. A Map of Home has been getting fabulous reviews and seems to be selling briskly at Amazon.
Next, I mosied over to the Presbyterian Chapel (!) to hear Mommybloggers talk about Sleep is for the Weak. This is the only event (except maybe whatever was going on under the hot sun in the children’s tent) where members of the audience had brought along babies.
I stayed on for Patti Callahan Henry and Daniel Wallace. Wallace read a section of his new novel, Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician, from the point of view of an ossified girl. He explained that he didn’t know the scientific name for her affliction, so later I told him – fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva. In my introduction to Love You to Pieces, I wrote, “I suspect that Carol Zapata-Whelan’s story ‘Ordinary Time’ is the only piece of fiction in print that takes FOP as its subject.” As it turns out, I was wrong.
I then took a break in the hospitality suite, where I had the pleasure of meeting best-selling Chinese writer Da Chen, before heading back over to the Presbyterian Chapel for “Marrying the Other Side of the Earth” – my presentation with Christina Thompson. I read a bit of Losing Kei and talked about how I came to write the novel, and then Christina read from her book, and then people asked a lot of questions about Japan.
The book vendor at the Presbyterian Chapel was Charis Books, which pleased me to no end. I told them that if I’d had the resources (time, money, babysitters) to do a proper book tour in the Southeast, their store was one I would have definitely wanted to visit, and that I was so glad they were the ones selling my novel on this day. One of the women told me that they’d been stocking my books in their store all along. Oh, happy me!
Later that evening, there was a reception put on by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, and then a V.I.P. reception at the Courthouse. By midnight, I was all schmoozed/partied out and threw myself into bed.