First, some quick backstory:
- Once upon a time, I saw HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET in a bookstore, saw that the author (Jamie) was coming to do a reading/signing, realized he was a fellow halfie, and decided to check it out. Bought the book and loved it. Friended Jamie on Twitter.
- Fast forward a couple years, and Google launches their Hangouts feature, which lets you video chat with multiple people. Jamie starts hosting Wednesday Writer’s Hangouts. I join in and meet a bunch of cool peeps, including Aprilynne Pike, Ben L.J. Brooks, and Dustin Hansen.
- Fast forward another year or so, to 2013, and I decide to visit Seattle over Labor Day. Jokingly, I tell Jamie, Ben, Aprilynne and Dustin that we should all meet up there. To my surprise, they agree. In fact, they book their hotels before I’ve even bought my plane tickets! Holy crap, this is really happening.
So about halfway through my Seattle trip, I took a break from sight-seeing to join this elite literary cadre for tea, pho, and a special tour of the Panama Hotel. The hotel’s owner (who knows and loves Jamie) even took us down to the sento — the only Japanese bath house in Seattle that’s still intact.
It was pretty amazing to get a “VIP” look at this historic site — the hotel being where many Japanese families stowed their belongings during the WWII internment. And it was so fun to hang out with my author-friends in person. (Sadly Dustin had to cancel at the last minute, but he was there with us in spirit.) All four of them are further along the writer-path than I am — what with Jamie and Aprilynne being New York Times bestsellers (!!) and Ben and Dustin agented and on submission — so it’s inspiring and informative to hear them talk about their journeys. They’re so different from one another, and yet each one is driven by the same thing I feel in my own heart: A love of stories. A belief that words and what we say with them are important. A desire to share our imaginations with others.
(Last photo yoinked from Jamie Ford.)