Writerly Thursday

(Wednesday has come and gone, so Thursday will have to do.)

1. Last Sunday evening, my book club had the honor of Skyping with author Jamie Ford about his debut novel HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET. (One of my 2010 faves!) I first met Jamie when he came to Cincinnati for a reading and signing. He was very approachable, and we chatted about his book, being halfies, and writing in general. I’ve kept in touch with him via Twitter and his blog, so I knew he sometimes did these Skype chats with readers, and I felt comfortable asking him to do one with us. And I am SO glad that I did. Even though the dumplings I made turned into a disaster (they wouldn’t cook all the way through! — thank goodness I bought sushi too) my fellow book clubbers pretty much thought I was the bomb dot com for “knowing” an author and getting him to chat with us. Jamie said lots of authors do it, so if you’re in a book club, don’t be afraid to ask!

Sadly I forgot to take photos of the chat, but this is more or less how it went down:

jamie-ford-skype

2. Jennifer Tomscha describes the singular pain of trying to make a life out of birthing watermelons. (Oh, just read it. It’s lovely, and it will make sense.)

Of course, figuring out how to live in this world is not only a writer’s affliction. Each person has to wake up every morning and determine how she is going to survive, how to manage the economies of life, how to create room within these economies for what she loves. But for the writer, this task is particularly difficult, in part because the choice to create a life of letters is a choice that has to be made every day, even on the days that don’t seem fruitful.

3. Last but not least, Onnesha Roychoudhuri (try saying that 3 times fast) gives a fascinating look at Amazon’s role in publishing, as well as a little history of the biz before-Amazon.

What happens when an industry concerned with the production of culture is beholden to a company with the sole goal of underselling competitors? Amazon is indisputably the king of books, but the issue remains … “what kind of king they’re going to be.” A vital publishing industry must be able take chances with new authors and with books that don’t have obvious mass-market appeal. When mega-retailers have all the power in the industry, consumers benefit from low prices, but the effect on the future of literature—on what books can be published successfully—is far more in doubt.

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14 Comments

  1. Les

    The drawing made me giggle a lot :p
    I agree with the statement about Amazon though. It’s a… problem.

  2. Although I have been enjoying your home blog and those you post on writerunboxed et al, I found your reference to ‘coming to Cincinnati’ of particular interest as I spent my first 50 years there and it still runs in my veins. Are you with WD?

  3. Alex-
    Oh, another Cincy connection! Fun. :) No, I’m not with WD. I came here after college because my boyfriend Andy had been hired by P&G. I got a job with a design firm and have been working there ever since. Well, until last month, when I quit to pursue writing full-time. :P

    I have met a few WD folks, though. Chuck Sambuchino of Guide to Literary Agents is a buddy, and I met Jane Friedman before she took her UC post, although she probably wouldn’t remember me.

    Isn’t it funny what a small world this is? :)

  4. So cool that you skyped Jamie Ford! (Why does that sound slightly obscene?!) I LOVED Hotel. Such a brilliantly done novel.

  5. I would have never thought to skype an author during book club. What a great idea! Thanks! (Still haven’t read Jamie’s book yet, but it’s on my TBR list.)

  6. Love the drawing! That Amazon quote is a bit scary. I hadn’t really thought about that…I’m going to continue being a wallflower and watch what will happen.

  7. That picture you drew is totally awesome in every way. I love the run-on words you used as a background. Great job there!

  8. hahaha I love the drawing!

  9. Apparently I should draw more… :)

  10. That picture made me laugh out loud! What an awesome experience! Can I join your bookclub!?! :)

  11. Love the skype/book club combo! How creative! And props to you for making dumplings. The pic made me lol.

  12. i think it’d be kind of a long drive for you, Rachele, lol. But you’d probably be welcome! The girls are super sweet.

  13. OMG yes, that drawing is so much better than a picture could ever be! It really made me smile.

    That’s amazing that you got to Skype with him; I’d heard of authors doing that, but I didn’t realize it could be as simple as just asking. How long did you speak? Did you have a lot of questions? What was he like?

  14. We talked for about 30 min (which was perfect — I wouldn’t have wanted to go over 45 min, just as a consideration on his time) and he was awesome. Just very friendly, down-to-earth, “normal.” He even talked about how HE geeked out getting to meet some of his favorite authors, which was just so ironic, hehe.

    We didn’t have a list of questions, but I did ask the group to have a few thoughts prepared in their minds ahead of time, that way we wouldn’t be sitting there like morons. More questions developed naturally as we talked.

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