As a jock, I usually only do sports-related things in my spare time, like studying programming languages and listening to Carly Rae Jepsen albums. With this in mind, you may not be surprised to learn that I rarely visit book stores. Purchasing an e-reader several years ago has made it seem kind of unnecessary. Now that I'm trying out new things, however, I decided to actually go to a bookstore and attend an event.
Naomi Jackson, as part of a book tour for The Star Side of Bird Hill, stopped by Elliot Bay Book Company tonight to read an extended passage from her book and take questions from the audience. Additionally, there was an appearance by Anastacia Tolbert, a local Seattle poet; she read some of her poems and later asked Jackson several questions of her own.
Generally speaking, I was really impressed with how the event was handled. Both guests received a warm and detailed introduction by the book store's manager, which provided some helpful for context for someone like me that wasn't already familiar with what they have worked on. Additionally, the Q&A session took prominence over the reading itself, which allowed Jackson to share a lot of information about how she writes and how her own experiences (including a childhood that split her time between Brooklyn and Barbados) directly shaped the novel. Because their audience was relatively small and selective, she felt comfortable walking us through some of the finer, more technical aspects of her process for this book, including why she opted for a third-person perspective and what she focused on while writing each draft (in a series of nearly a dozen separate drafts).
Events like this seem like a great way to be introduced to new writers. If I were to complain about anything regarding this free, feel-good experience, it would be that the chairs at the venue made my back a little sore after a while. Someone better get that shit sorted out before I return!