An Open Book – The Inprint Blog https://anopenbookblog.org a place for literary conversation Wed, 29 May 2019 14:57:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 Abbigail N. Rosewood’s diasporic ghost story comes to Houston https://anopenbookblog.org/abbigail-n-rosewoods-diasporic-ghost-story-comes-to-houston/ https://anopenbookblog.org/abbigail-n-rosewoods-diasporic-ghost-story-comes-to-houston/#respond Tue, 28 May 2019 21:27:38 +0000 https://anopenbookblog.org/?p=2521 Continue reading ]]> Time flies when you’re having fun, and in the blink of an eye, it has been a month and a half since I started my role as Marketing Associate at Inprint. For about two years prior, I was the Events Manager at Brazos Bookstore. Sadly, I’m around fewer physical books, but luckily, I’ve found this amazing job where I can use reading and writing as vehicles for supporting the literary arts in Houston. Also, I can finally also go to events and enjoy them!

Abbigail N. Rosewood was born in Vietnam, where she lived until the age of twelve. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. An excerpt from If I Had Two Lives won first place in the Writers Workshop of Asheville Literary Fiction Contest. The novel follows a young woman from her childhood in Vietnam to her life as an immigrant in the United States and her return to her homeland. I loved the book so I’m ecstatic that she will be in Houston presenting If I Had Two Lives on Thursday, May 30 from 7 – 8 pm at Blue Willow Bookshop.

If I Had Two Lives is a luminous debut novel which follows a young woman from her childhood in Vietnam to her life as an immigrant in the United States and her return to her homeland. Part historical fiction and ghost story, where the ghosts take on several forms such as history, memory, and trauma. She will be presenting the book on Thursday, May 30 from 7 – 8 pm at Blue Willow Bookshop.

In this interview, I asked Abbigail about her book, her craft, and how the process of completing and publishing it changed her.

THU: What kind of books do you like to read? What are you reading now?

ABBIGAIL: I embrace all genres: fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. When explored in-depth all genres begin to intersect, to weave together a vision that is beyond itself. This isn’t limited to writing, but also visual arts and music. Categorizing art may be useful to distributors and consumers, but I don’t think artists function this way. Fiction can wrestle with philosophical quandary, essays can have narrative arcs, poetry saturates the mind with music without playing a single note. I appreciate all artistic expressions whether or not I agree with them. Right now, I’m reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell, a friend’s manuscript, Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, and the magnum opus graphic novel Kabuki by David Mack.

THU: Does your reading influence or inform your writing?

ABBIGAIL: My writing is a combination of intuition and distillation of everything I’ve ever read. My first piece of writing in high school sounded like a bad Victorian, gothic knockoff. I emulated for years until I found my creative voice, or rather it found me.

THU: The novel reads like a ghost story. The ‘ghosts’ take the form of history, memory, and trauma, and they haunt the main character. Tell me how you gave life to these themes.

ABBIGAIL: I love that observation. I’m interested in all manners of haunting, literal ghosts or as you say, memories and trauma. For the child narrator, haunting tends to be more literal, like pretending to be her father’s ghost. All her actions reflect her knowledge of death at a young age. For the adult narrator, her memories of her before-life are so vivid that they are constantly present–they haven’t been digested by her subconscious and are always within reach. It doesn’t take much for her memories to resurface. In a way, they are much more real to her than her immediate surrounding. Her reconstruction and reenactment of memories is part of the effort to comprehend her past and how she has become who she is. As I wrote, I was always asking myself questions: How does trauma secrete into ordinary moments like washing the dishes? Can you abandon someone you really love? Is love possible for a character who has known only loneliness?

THU: The novel focuses on the narrator’s relationships to her mother, a little girl, and a soldier. I love how you’ve written it to where the reader focuses on her relationships yet an entire world coexists linearly. You have to imagine yourself from their perspectives to capture the full scope. What can you say to that?

ABBIGAIL: Thank you so much! Bits of me are in all of my characters, including the mother, the soldier, the little girl, and even the little girl’s father. I believe that compassion is the only key that fits everyone–I try to afford every character a kind of god-like compassion so that they are free to live out their life on the page, to make decisions that seem ugly, but all the more human because of it, and therefore beautiful too. There’s always a risk in holding back judgment completely, for example, to imagine violence–its perpetrator and victim–this is also the privilege of art. Many things in life, such as politics or love, fail due to a lack of imagination.

THU: Can you describe your journey into writing?

ABBIGAIL: I’ve loved to write since elementary school, but I didn’t see it as a career option until my second year in undergraduate. I still remember the first flash fiction piece I wrote using something resembling my own voice. The Humanity of Sunflowers was about a widow receiving the news of her husband passing in combat. I didn’t write it for class or for anything other than the drive to create. In the beginning, all my characters were automatically white. I was looking outside of myself for material. For my first creative writing class, I submitted The Foreign Dream, a story about a woman who sold helmets on the sidewalk of Vietnam, had a one-night stand with a white man, and gave birth to a half baby. It was my first attempt to depict Vietnamese lives. The short story was published in a literary magazine. I think that was the point when I began to search inward for material and when I realized that my characters didn’t have to be white, they could be like me.

THU: An excerpt from the book won first place in the Writers Workshop of Asheville Literary Fiction Contest and it’s your debut novel, could you describe the process of writing this novel?

ABBIGAIL: The way a novel comes to fruition is similar to the birth of a baby–the idea was planted, germinated, and grew until it must be born. Once I found the voice, I sat down and wrote over thirty pages in one sitting. I submitted these pages to my workshop at Columbia. This was a mistake because receiving criticism this early on completely stalled my process. Once classes ended, I continued on my own until I have eighty pages. By then I knew I had a novel. I was lucky to have a supportive thesis advisor who pushed me relentlessly. At the time I was working at an insurance company, I wanted to go into zombie mode at the end of the day, but my advisor demanded that I turned in twenty pages every four weeks. I wrote after work and I wrote every Saturday and Sunday. I did nothing for many weekends except writing. I hated my job¾it was the most corporate of all corporate jobs, situated on Wall Street of all places, but it gave me the drive to finish my book. Looking back, it was one of the most beautiful time of my life and I didn’t even know it.

THU: Now that the novel has made its way into the world, do you have a sense of where your writing will grow?

ABBIGAIL: My second novel is finished and still looking for a home. Stylistically it is very different than my first. I wrote it quickly in a state of despair so it doesn’t have the compassion of If I Had Two Lives. It is a voice full of envy, desperation, and grief. Perhaps it is more brutal and so all the more selective of its readers. In many ways, I feel doomed that my pool of readers will inevitably narrow down with every work I put out. I give out slices of nightmares, which I consider gifts, but not everyone wants to confront such darkness. It is enough to reach a few readers. How can anyone expect more than that? I feel incredibly lucky. From here I hope to write more daringly, to delight, to make more unexpected connections between things.

THU: In your acknowledgements, you wrote: “This novel was born out of the aching pleasure of rearranging memories, reinventing the past–a personal need to solve my childhood mysteries, figure out how I’ve arrived here, and give myself emotional conclusions that real life doesn’t afford.”

This novel was born out of the aching pleasure of rearranging memories, reinventing the past–a personal need to solve my childhood mysteries, figure out how I’ve arrived here, and give myself emotional conclusions that real life doesn’t afford.

I think imagination is to a child as writing fiction and storytelling is to an adult. Children use their imaginations as vehicles to questions they don’t have the answers to whereas writing fiction and storytelling to an adult tap into the same place. It reminds us that we’re still children that cannot fully realize answers either. Is writing something you do for yourself?

ABBIGAIL: Absolutely, I have only ever written for myself. This sounds self-centered, but art has to be if it were to have any chance at truth. Publishing is necessary for a writer, but secondary to the process. My personal artistic measurements ask many questions including, Is the work original in some way? Does the artist risk something to accomplish her vision? Can the work be done by her and her alone? I will always write what only I can write.

THU: Do you think it’s possible to re-write this story?

ABBIGAIL: No, I don’t think so. I have recurring obsessions that will emerge in all of my writing, but this particular story could only be done once.

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Author Sehba Sarwar talks about the new edition of her novel Black Wings https://anopenbookblog.org/author-sehba-sarwar-talks-about-the-new-edition-of-her-novel-black-wings/ https://anopenbookblog.org/author-sehba-sarwar-talks-about-the-new-edition-of-her-novel-black-wings/#respond Sat, 04 May 2019 18:12:16 +0000 https://anopenbookblog.org/?p=2517 Continue reading ]]> When you work at a place like Inprint and are surrounded by talented writers, you are lucky to have many friends that have their books published. There is something extra special to me about reading a book written by a friend. Not only are you proud of her or his accomplishment, but you can’t wait to dig in and read the story they have created. For me, reading Sehba Sarwar’s novel Black Wings, on the one hand, felt like spending the evenings with an old friend, a friend I miss dearly who use to live in Houston, a friend I have laughed with, partied with, and shared many important life conversations with. The beauty of a good writer however, is their ability to take you into another world, a world you absorb yourself into, a world that stands on its own, whether or not you know the writer. Black Wings excels at this and so much more.

Many Houstonians know Sehba Sarwar as the founding director of Voices Breaking Boundaries. As a writer and artist, she creates essays, stories, poems, and art that tackle displacement, migration, and women’s issues. Her writings have appeared in publications including New York Times Sunday Magazine, Asia: Magazine of Asian Literature, Callaloo and elsewhere while her short stories have appeared in or are forthcoming in anthologies with Feminist Press, Akashic Books, and Harper Collins India. Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, Sarwar is currently based in Southern California. Her novel Black Wings was originally published in Pakistan. She will be reading from a second edition of the novel, published in the United States for the first time by Veliz Books this Monday, May 6, 7 pm at Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet. Free and open to the public, click here for more information about the reading to order a copy of Black Wings.

She will be reading from a second edition of the novel, published in the United States for the first time by Veliz Books this Monday, May 6, 7 pm at Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet.

The novel is set during post-9/11 times in Houston, Texas and Karachi, Pakistan. The story is revealed through the voices of mother and daughter Yasmeen and Laila. After a family tragedy, followed by many years of separation, Yasmeen and Laila confront family secrets, broken relationships, and a sense of alienation from their immediate and global environments. I caught up with Sehba before her Brazos Bookstore reading to ask her a few questions about the novel, how it has been changed in this latest edition, and about coming back to Houston.

KRUPA: Black Wings was originally published in Pakistan in 2004 and this is the first U.S. publication of the novel. Did you make extensive changes to the novel, and if so, what led you to make the particular changes you selected to make? 

SEHBA: When I signed the contract with Veliz Books, I thought I’d tinker with the text a little bit, but once I opened the document, I began to scrub the text. The process took me six months—much longer than I had anticipated. This is because the book was published almost 15 years ago, and my writing style has become much leaner since then. I also am a mother (my daughter was born a few months after the first edition came out), so I have grown emotionally. And finally, my editor Minerva Laveaga is excellent. She gave good feedback, and we went back-forth quite a few times. That was different from working with Alhamra Books in Pakistan for the first edition. Back then, my agent Gail Hochman helped with edits.

KRUPA: Black Wings deals with so many complex issues. One of the main focuses of the novel is loss and the way different characters navigate loss – loss of a sibling, loss of a child, loss of a marriage, loss of a sense of home, loss of connection, loss of country, etc. Do you have a sense of what led you to make this a central focus of the novel? Personal experiences, observations, incidents?

SEHBA: Yes, loss is a huge part of the novel. Years ago, when I finished the book, I realized that I was writing about the death of my uncle, who passed away before I was even born. He was barely 30 years old when he died, and his death devastated my father’s family. His photograph—much like Yasir’s in Black Wings—was in every family home in Karachi. When writing the novel, I didn’t know how much my uncle’s death had impacted me and my family. And then of course, because I live away from my “home,” Pakistan, I am aware of the loss that I experience. And my family has also experienced that loss because both my mother’s family and my father’s family had left the cities of their birth in India after the 1947 Partition and had migrated to Pakistan. I’m still processing that loss – now through my memoir-in-progress, On Belonging.

Years ago, when I finished the book, I realized that I was writing about the death of my uncle, who passed away before I was even born. He was barely 30 years old when he died, and his death devastated my father’s family…. When writing the novel, I didn’t know how much my uncle’s death had impacted me and my family.

KRUPA: Do you feel the story you were hoping to share in 2004 with Black Wings, when the novel first came out, is the same story you are hoping to share now in 2019? 

SEHBA: I think that the text is much tighter, but the content is the same. The book came out post-9/11, so the world had changed between the time that I started Black Wings, and by the time it was published. The first chapters in both Book One and Book Two open in airports and airplanes, and the narrative reflects the challenge of movement across continents, which has changed as has our relationship to flying. I don’t write thinking of a message or a story – I let the story unfurl, so in that sense, the second edition is the same as the first.

KRUPA: Has the reception to the novel in 2019 been similar or different to the reception to the novel in 2004? What about the difference between the reception in the U.S. and Pakistan?

SEHBA: The first edition of the novel was published in Pakistan, and I gave readings in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad, and the book was available in bookstores all around Pakistan. Reviews also appeared in Pakistani newspapers and magazines. At the same time, because I was based in Houston, I did bring copies to Houston, and Brazos Bookstore carried some. I also read for my organization, Voices Breaking Boundaries, and at random spaces mostly around Houston, but I never toured the novel in the US. My daughter was born a few months after Black Wings was released in 2004, and her birth has been the most life-changing event I have experienced. So the book was superseded by Minal. With this new edition, I’m actually doing a U.S. tour, and the book is now available all around the country. Universities and colleges are interested in the novel and faculty are reviewing the work as a possible textbook – so because of the availability of the second edition and the fact that I’m able to market the novel, Black Wings is getting a wider readership already.

With this new edition, I’m actually doing a U.S. tour, and the book is now available all around the country. Universities and colleges are interested in the novel and faculty are reviewing the work as a possible textbook – so because of the availability of the second edition and the fact that I’m able to market the novel, Black Wings is getting a wider readership already.

KRUPA: The novel has two main first person narrators, mother and daughter, Laila and Yasmeen. The story and the way it is revealed demonstrates how much empathy you as a writer have for each’s life situation. You are both a mother and a daughter. Which character was more challenging for you to write? 

SEHBA: The mother—definitely. As I said earlier, when I began writing Black Wings, I had yet to experience motherhood, so I remember asking my mother a lot of questions as I wrote. Switching voices between the mother and daughter made it easier for me to stretch and understand where each character was coming from. In the second edition, Yasmeen, the daughter, becomes softer. I think this is because I have grown and changed.

KRUPA: The idea of home and what it means is something this novel and a lot of your work tackles. For many years, Houston is where you and your family resided, a place you owned a house, a place that in many ways served as your home. How does it feel to be coming back to share your stories and this novel with Houston where it is set?

SEHBA: I had never planned to stay in Houston as long as I did—more than two decades—but Houston became a home for me, and I’m so thrilled to be back and share my work with my Houston friends, many of whom never read Black Wings since the book wasn’t easily available in the US. And I’m happy that I’ll be reading at Brazos Bookstore. That’s the only bookstore in the city that carried Black Wings, and it’s a bookstore where I’ve seen so many writers I love and respect. As always, there won’t be enough time for me to see everyone and do everything because I’ll be swinging between Austin and San Antonio. But I’ve spent enough time in Houston to know that I’ll return soon enough. In the summer, I’ll be doing a Macondo Writers Workshop in San Antonio, and in the fall, I’ll be in Austin for the Texas Book Festival, and I know I’ll dip into Houston. I have to. As you said, this city was my home for so long, and the city is definitely where Black Wings is set. Houston –and actually my East End neighborhood –  is also where my latest short story, “Railway Track,” is set, and the day after I read at Brazos, I’ll be at the Houston Noir book launch with Gwendolyn Zepeda and other friends.

To learn more about Sehba Sarwar and her work, visit her homepage at sehbasarwar.com

 

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Dispatch 16: Chris Cander and The Weight of a Piano make a final tour stop in Chicago https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-16-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-make-a-final-tour-stop-in-chicago/ https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-16-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-make-a-final-tour-stop-in-chicago/#respond Thu, 21 Mar 2019 17:10:52 +0000 https://anopenbookblog.org/?p=2507 Continue reading ]]> Houston author Chris Cander’s “Dispatches from Book Tour,” a multi-week blog series of reflections and updates along her 17-city U.S. book tour for her new novel The Weight of a Piano (published by Knopf), comes to a close with Dispatch 16, from Chicago.

Friday, March 15, 2019

I blew into the windy city for the final official stop on my book tour. Before my event, I asked my Uber driver to take me to the Brewster Apartments, which was the building I fictionalized in my novel 11 Stories. I took along the miniature piano I photographed in Death Valley while I was writing The Weight of a Piano, and held it up right about where my protagonist Roscoe fell from the roof of the building in the novel. (Roscoe, meet Mini #Blüthner; Mini Blüthner, meet Roscoe.) 

The National Book Award finalist, Rebecca Makkai, whose work I’ve long admired, invited me to be in conversation with her at Women & Children First Bookstore. Her interview format was so much fun; it felt like a continuation of our hilarious dinner conversation beforehand, but with some audience participation thrown in. It was a delightful ending to my nearly 8 weeks of traveling.

I’m so grateful to all the bookstores and booksellers and readers and reviewers who’ve helped contribute to this novel’s success since its release. Thank you, dear readers, for sharing this journey with me, and Inprint, for graciously posting these dispatches. I’ll always look back on this time with gratitude and love.

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Dispatch 15: Chris Cander and The Weight of a Piano go to LA! https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-15-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-to-la/ https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-15-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-to-la/#respond Mon, 18 Mar 2019 17:54:07 +0000 https://anopenbookblog.org/?p=2502 Continue reading ]]> Houston author Chris Cander’s “Dispatches from Book Tour,” a multi-week blog series of reflections and updates along her 17-city U.S. book tour for her new novel The Weight of a Piano (published by Knopf), continues with Dispatch 15, from Los Angeles, California.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

From blizzard to beach: after an early flight to L.A. and before my interview with the legendary Michael Silverblatt for his Bookworm podcast, I put my feet in the sand and watched the blue-green Atlantic Ocean waves roll in on the beach where, in The Weight of a Piano, Clara’s parents took her as a child during happier times.

After meeting with my film agent, who’s very excited about the directors and actors who are currently reading, we went to Skylight Books. Helga Kasimoff, the German octogenarian who was so instrumental during my early research on Blüthner pianos was already there along with Russian pianist Sergey Silvanskiy and a mid-century upright that her son had brought in especially for tonight’s event. At points during my presentation, Sergey performed a moving piece by Mikail Glinka, the 19-century composer considered the fountainhead of Russian classical music, another by Alexander Scriabin, and concluded with “DieReise,” the piece by Konner Scott that appears in the novel. The highlight of the Q&A with the standing-room-only crowd was when Helga sat down with me at the piano and talked about her family’s emigration to the U.S. and establishment of their famous Blüthner dealership. It was an emotional moment for me when I was able to personally give her a copy of the novel that has her influence on nearly all its pages.

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Dispatch 14: Chris Cander and The Weight of a Piano go to Stillwater, MN https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-14-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-to-stillwater-mn/ https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-14-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-to-stillwater-mn/#respond Fri, 08 Mar 2019 00:46:39 +0000 https://anopenbookblog.org/?p=2496 Continue reading ]]> Houston author Chris Cander’s “Dispatches from Book Tour,” a multi-week blog series of reflections and updates along her 17-city U.S. book tour for her new novel The Weight of a Piano (published by Knopf), continues with Dispatch 14, from Stillwater, Minnesota.

February 21, 2019

Pamela Klinger-Horn is an angel among booksellers. She founded and has, for years, run something called Literature Lovers’ Night Out™, a ticketed event that draws usually a hundred readers to hear 3-4 writers talk about their latest novels. She was a big fan of my last novel, Whisper Hollow, and offered early endorsement of The Weight of a Piano, and I was so delighted that she invited me to be part of her literary tradition.

Tonight’s reading was in Stillwater, a quaint little town on the Mississippi River, east of Minneapolis. I was there with the wonderful author Anissa Gray, whose debut The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls has captured the attention of reviewers and readers all over the country. Before the event began, Anissa and I shared fried Brussels sprouts and fish tacos at a great place called Lolo, and found in each other a kindred spirit. Two notable commonalities were that we’d both worked with the writer Alice McDermott when we were scholars at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference two years apart, and neither of us much enjoys the presence or smell of dogs. (Sorry dog lovers.)

After selling and signing many books, we, along with local mystery writer Allen Eskens, said our goodbyes, and headed off in separate directions to continue our respective tours. Tomorrow I’m going back to Houston for a few days, where I hear it’s raining, and it will be good to be home again, if only for a little while.

 

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Dispatch 13: Chris Cander and The Weight of a Piano have a day off in Minnesota https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-13-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-have-a-day-off-in-minnesota/ https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-13-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-have-a-day-off-in-minnesota/#respond Fri, 01 Mar 2019 18:16:13 +0000 https://anopenbookblog.org/?p=2488 Continue reading ]]> Houston author Chris Cander’s “Dispatches from Book Tour,” a multi-week blog series of reflections and updates along her 17-city U.S. book tour for her new novel The Weight of a Piano (published by Knopf), continues with Dispatch 13, from Excelsior Bay, Minnesota.

February 20, 2019 

Due to the 9” of snow that fell today, tonight’s event–Literature Lovers’ Night Out™ in Excelsior Bay, MN–was canceled. So while everyone else bundled up and hunkered down, I shed my outerwear (see previous post re: my actually being a polar bear) and went for a walk in the blizzard. Afterward, I got to spend a few hours in the company of one of my very best friends for more than twenty years, the author Charlie Baxter. We got to toast to the completion of his newest novel and to the publication of mine, and to catch up on the many things we love to talk about. 

It was disappointing to miss the reading, but with such good friends, the snow, and a quiet evening in a comfortable hotel, this unexpected day off in the middle of book tour turned out to be perfectly wonderful.

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Dispatch 12: Chris Cander and The Weight of a Piano go to Minneapolis https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-12-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-to-minneapolis/ https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-12-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-to-minneapolis/#respond Thu, 28 Feb 2019 01:06:54 +0000 https://anopenbookblog.org/?p=2484 Continue reading ]]> Houston author Chris Cander’s “Dispatches from Book Tour,” a multi-week blog series of reflections and updates along her 17-city U.S. book tour for her new novel The Weight of a Piano (published by Knopf), continues with Dispatch 12, from Minneapolis.

February 19, 2019 (Dispatch 12)

It was 0oF in Minneapolis when I boarded my flight from Houston this morning. Fortunately, I have the constitution of a polar bear, so was delighted. My sister-friend Ellory, whom I met 14 years ago when my husband was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN to receive a kidney transplant, picked me up from the airport, and we got to spend some time together before tonight’s event.

It was cold enough to thin the herd of readers, but even with the weather, there were close to 20 in attendance at Magers & Quinn Bookstore. The small crowd made for an intimate gathering, and after I talked about and read from the book, my dear friend and fellow Knopf writer Peter Geye led a conversation about The Weight of a Piano. I was moved by a woman in the second row, who said that four years ago she’d chosen Whisper Hollow for discussion at the Minnesota chapter of the American Association of University Women, and had been awaiting the arrival of my next book. Her sincerity almost made me tear up. I’ve always known the transformative power books can have on people’s lives. But recognizing, perhaps for the first time, that my books might also was quite a special moment for me.

 

 

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Dispatch 11: Chris Cander and The Weight of A Piano come back home https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-11-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-come-back-home/ https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-11-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-come-back-home/#respond Fri, 22 Feb 2019 19:34:27 +0000 https://anopenbookblog.org/?p=2479 Continue reading ]]> Houston author Chris Cander’s “Dispatches from Book Tour,” a multi-week blog series of reflections and updates along her 17-city U.S. book tour for her new novel The Weight of a Piano (published by Knopf), continues with Dispatch 11, back in Houston.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

As much as I’ve enjoyed being on the road, it’s been great being back home the past few days. And while my family is proud of me and supportive of my work, they also like it when I return to my usual post in the kitchen. And laundry room. And driver’s seat…

Tonight’s event at Blue Willow Bookshop was delightful. Valerie, girl boss extraordinaire, created a towering display of books (which were nearly gone by night’s end) and welcomed me as only she can. There were readers and friends in attendance who’d already heard me talk about the book, but wanted to hear more. A friend all the way from Denmark, and a few from across the street. Several people shared their own piano stories, both painful and poignant, which I’m always so moved to hear.

Readers, thanks for sticking with me on this tour. We’re more than halfway there.

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Dispatch 10: Chris Cander and The Weight of a Piano go to New York City https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-10-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-to-new-york-city/ https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-10-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-go-to-new-york-city/#respond Fri, 15 Feb 2019 22:33:30 +0000 https://anopenbookblog.org/?p=2475 Continue reading ]]> Houston author Chris Cander’s “Dispatches from Book Tour,” a multi-week blog series of reflections and updates along her 17-city U.S. book tour for her new novel The Weight of a Piano (published by Knopf), continues with Dispatch 10 from New York City.

February 7, 2019

Not only because I dedicated the book to her, but because I love being with my daughter, Sasha, I invited her to join me in NYC for my event at the gorgeous McNally-Jackson Books. She originally said she couldn’t miss school that week, but on Monday, she called and said her schedule was light and she really wanted to be there. So on Wednesday, she flew up from Houston—by herself, clever girl!—and was able to be with us last night for a truly memorable event.

My agent, Jess, and editor, Gary, along with many other wonderful members of the teams at HSG Agency and Knopf were there, as well as some old friends and family who came from far and wide, and many, many others who’d read or heard about The Weight of a Piano. The store very nearly sold out of books, in part due to one reader who loved the talk so much he bought TEN copies to give away to friends.

Everyone adjourned to the home of my dear friends Louise and Charlie Marburg (please check out her collection The Truth About Me, which is amazing) for a party that lasted into the wee hours. I was so delighted that my friend, the author Christina Baker-Kline (who gave my book a beautiful blurb) was there, along with many other writers, artists, and all-around interesting people. I know I keep saying it, but this has been an incredible experience, and I’m so appreciative for all the love and support from my publisher and agency, all the booksellers and bookstores, and the many friends and readers who continue to spread the word about my beloved book.

Tomorrow I return to Houston, where I’ll have a few days off and then get to be with Valerie and friends at the amazing Blue Willow Bookshop on Wednesday, Feb. 13. I’d love to see you there.

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Dispatch 9: Chris Cander and The Weight of a Piano make it to Springfield, Mass https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-9-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-make-it-to-springfield-mass/ https://anopenbookblog.org/dispatch-9-chris-cander-and-the-weight-of-a-piano-make-it-to-springfield-mass/#respond Wed, 13 Feb 2019 01:07:18 +0000 https://anopenbookblog.org/?p=2466 Continue reading ]]>

Houston author Chris Cander’s “Dispatches from Book Tour,” a multi-week blog series of reflections and updates along her 17-city U.S. book tour for her new novel The Weight of a Piano (published by Knopf), continues with Dispatch 9 from Springfield, Massachusetts.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

I caught the train from Penn Station to Springfield, Mass for a relaxing, 3-hour ride. About the time we were to arrive, the train stopped. Nobody said anything, nobody moved. I assumed we were letting a southbound train pass, as we had a while earlier. My friend was at the station waiting for me, and sent a text asking if we were late. Finally, just as the train started moving again, I asked the conductor what was happening, and he said, “Springfield was twenty minutes ago! Why didn’t you get off?”

My face flushed. “I didn’t hear an announcement.”

“You’re just supposed to know!”

“I’m from Houston!” I told him. “Texans don’t do trains!”

He laughed and patted my shoulder. He called my friend so they could decide where she should pick me up, then moved me and my stuff close to the door and said he wouldn’t let me miss my stop this time. Now Greg and I are pals for life.

The event that night at Odyssey Bookshop was so great. The store, founded by current owner Joan Grenier’s father, is celebrating its 55th anniversary this year. I got there early to sign 200+ copies for their First Editions Club and finished in time to visit with some of the attendees, including my cousin Sheri and her friend who drove 90 minutes to be there, and the nephew of a woman in my mother’s book club in Industry, TX. Even with extra chairs, the room was packed, and the attendees asked many interesting and thoughtful questions. We went way over our allotted time, but it was so worth it. Afterward, Joan asked me to sign their infamous bathroom wall. I found a spot next to the mirror and sent this message out to all you beautiful readers.

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