Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Whew! This past weekend was the 3-day extravaganza that is Wordstock, Portland’s Festival of the Book, and I’m still recovering. We kicked off the fun Thursday night, when my good friend and comrade-in-arms, Sally Nemeth (she of the funny and poignant YA novel, The Heights, the Depths, and Everything in Between) arrived fresh from the Hollywood writers’ strike. First on the agenda: catching up over pub food and some fine local microbrews. Then, Friday morning, Sally went off into the hills with a wild-food expert, part of her research for her new YA novel (check out her blog for more on her adventures in untamed NW cuisine).
In the meantime, I was having my own adventures. As part of Wordstock’s publicity blitz, those madcap book folks thought it would be fun to have authors sit in a store window in downtown Portland and read to folks passing on the street. When I first got their call for volunteers, I thought, No way. Never in a million years.
Whatsa matter? Chicken?
No, I’m not chicken! It’s just…
I AM NOT CHICKEN!
So do it, then. Dare you. Double dare you.
ALL RIGHT, I WILL!
I shot off an e-mail to the Wordstock organizers: Sign me up! And then spent the next two days wishing I could take it back. I was only joking. Someone sent that e-mail without my knowledge. I have a family emergency. My house burned down. I lost my book. I lost my voice.
But when Friday afternoon arrived, here I was:
Wordstock did a bang-up job, not only making a cozy author space in the window, but setting red Wordstock armchairs outside so folks could take a load off while they listened. People would be hurrying past, on their way to wherever, and they’d glance up with puzzled looks (where is that voice coming from?) Then they’d pause. Sometimes just for a few seconds, but often for a few minutes or even longer. It was, as another author-in-the-window told me later, “Weird and wonderful!” By the end, I was wishing I could read some more.
Other festival highlights:
Here I am at the authors’ reception with Sam Moses (for an absolute nail-biter of a true story, check out his book At All Costs: How a Crippled Ship and Two American Merchant Mariners Turned the Tide of WWII) and Sally Nemeth.
Sally’s reading on the Children’s Stage:
And then my own reading, Sunday afternoon. I shared the stage with my friend and mentor Karen Karbo, who read from the third book in her YA mystery series, Minerva Clark Gives up the Ghost.
I can't stand still long enough to speak from a podium. Even when I was teaching, I always had to move around. Plus, I talk with my hands. Drove some of my students nuts. Get over it, I'm Italian--I can't help it.
The inimitable Karen Karbo. When I grow up, I want to be just like her.
And finally, last thing on Sunday night at the festival's close, a photo session in the big red Wordstock chair:
I already can't wait until next year. I'll be reading from Ten Cents a Dance--and if any store windows are up for grabs, get out of my way. I'm there!