About a week or so ago I decided I needed to get more involved in my local book scene. I am thoroughly enjoying the community I am forming online, but it would be nice to know some local book people. Lo and behold if I didn't see in our local arts paper a reading taking place next week at a local club. Not only that, but it was being hosted by a new local indie bookstore. Color me excited! I live in an artsy college town, but we are better known for our music scene. I contacted the bookstore owner to introduce myself as a local blogger (and to mention that my publishing house has a local author). She mentioned that there was an event tonight at the library. I hadn't heard of the author or the book, but decided to go anyways. Here my take on the night....
The first thing I noticed about Tayari Jones was how personable and funny she was, also she has a great voice for reading aloud. I'm always a little envious of people who can read out loud so well. Even her stumble over words didn't break her cadence. She read the first chapter of her new book Silver Sparrow. And just as Janet Geddis, owner of Avid Book Shop, said, the story grabs you from the start. I knew before she finished the chapter that I would be walking out with my own copy.
Typically southern fiction does not hold my interest (I was hard pressed in high school to find a book to do my southern fiction term paper on). Silver Sparrow is set in Atlanta, but it is not the aristocratic south that is portrayed in the book. The plot intrigued me enough to overlook the setting. It is the story of the other family and secret sisters, you know my panache for family drama.
During the Q&A time, I thought Tayari shared a poignant thought, "No one should be born into shame." As a society we know adultery occurs, but we seem shocked when the children of these affairs are discovered. We act horrified at the thought of man having a second family, but how often do we hear these stories on the nightly news?
Another reason she writes her stories is to capture the real history of Atlanta and her generation's perspective. It might not make it into a history book, but the Atlanta life as Tayari Jones experienced it will be forever immortalized in her works of fiction. Her other novel, Leaving Atlanta, captures the dark days of the Atlanta child murders.
Tayari also had many words of wisdom for writers (one, if you write you are a writer so don't call yourself an aspiring writer). I was quickly jotting down notes, because I knew the authors I work with would appreciate the advice. Two, a writer must be able to manage disappointment and be able to move on from rejection. Even if you have sold your first book it doesn't mean the rest of your journey will be all roses and sunshine. The third piece of advice she had for writers: commit to writing the book, not because you can get it published, but because it is a story you have to tell. And the last bits of wisdom dealt with writer's block. She compared it not being able to fall asleep. The more you worry about it, the more wound up you become which makes it more impossible to accomplish the task. Just relax.
Do you enjoy book signings and author readings? Share with me a favorite memory of meeting an author.