REFLECTIONS OF THE DAY
I was honored to be invited again by the Michigan Reading Association to interview a new crop of young authors. The MRA allowed me this opportunity last year and you can listen to the details of that experience here. If I thought for one moment I would get used to the insight and talent that came from this years crop of wordsmiths, I would be joyfully disappointed. These young authors astounded me from the youngest to the oldest. From all different backgrounds and situations, they shared a piece of themselves with each word.
Last year, my father-in-law helped with memorializing the event. This year, my husband helped me out and we decided to do video interviews.
The day started out with a leisurely drive to Grand Rapids from Detroit. We passed a number of farms and wide, open spaces as we traversed down the highway. About three hours later, we arrived at the small, bustling hub of downtown Grand Rapids.
We arrived at the Amway Grand Hotel. The experience there gave new meaning to the word ‘luxurious’. The hotel has two sides to it (like people): a traditional 1920’s inspired grandeur and a modern, contemporary side. Walking into the hotel, the sheer vastness of the place manages to encapsulate you.
High ceilings and hanging chandeliers capture your admiration. We entered the 1920’s side of the hotel, and I was transported to that time period. I imagined men and women dressed in the attire of the day, strolling the opulent rooms halls of the hotel. I don’t travel too often, but if I did, the service at the Amway would be the yardstick I’d measure everyone else by. From the check-in staff to the bag attendant, everyone exhibited a high level of service.
We travel up to the 19th floor in the soundless elevator. As it rises higher and higher into the air, the stellar view of the waterfront takes your breath away.The water resemble crystals under the bright glare of the afternoon sun. It’s like a bay of diamonds. Everything is simply quite lovely.
For some reason, I found it funny the room number assigned to us was 1993. I have no idea why I took a picture of it.
After a quick stop, we travel through the hotel to find the room where I’ll be interviewing the next great writers of the century. I got quite a work out as we went around the place. I must have lost five pounds that whole weekend!
The next morning, it’s time to work and do what we can do encourage the young authors of today to continue their dreams tomorrow. Last year, the venue was at Cobo Hall, in the center of downtown Detroit. This year, at the Amway, the kids had a chance to really have one on one attention which helped to make the interview process more intimate and personal which I really enjoyed.
How inspiring to see so many kids lined up to share their stories with me! From a very smart turkey to using positive emotions for a loved going through cancer, each author brings words to enhance the day. One of the questions I asked each other was how would the encourage other kids to read. In the videos you’ll see, a common thread is the awakening of the imagination, a kindling of the mind, or releasing strong emotion. Each time I sat with them, I was so thankful to be able to a part of this. As a writer, I enjoy writing and losing myself. But this day, I lost myself in their words, their dreams, and their worlds.
As a special surprise, I talked to a good friend of mine who narrates speculative fiction stories on his podcast. I reached out to him and asked if he wouldn’t mind recording some of the pieces for the kids. He recorded some select pieces which you can hear by clicking on the link here. More will be available as he has time. Yeah!
I want to thank Karen Allmen for her coordination of the event. It always a pleasure to have someone who really is working to help eradicate illiteracy from the state of Michigan one child at a time.
At the end of the day, I drove home, tired and yet invigorated. After all, I interviewed the next J. K. Rowling before anyone knew them!
The interviews are broken up into three links:
Part One: https://youtu.be/yfbhnZUBsS8
Part Two: https://youtu.be/aOj0Bbfh0j0
Part Three: https://youtu.be/MzfOPELyByI
YOUNG AUTHORS GALLERY
December by Jacob William Johnstone
A Day with Donuts by Ava Gedert
Frozen in the Snow by Natalie Schlaud
Jane’s Adventure by Ava Sherman (narrated by Nathan James)
Dyslexia Makes Me Dizzy by Emma Reich
Rachel Brodi Jack and the Evil KingGaret Gertsch Magic Steve and Jester Emily Dennis Haley the HedgehogTaylor Mauldin Be Unique, Like MeLucas Nguyen The Invasive Pigs
Phoenix McCreadie Sirius
Arianna Crossley Junai