Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Last Call: Unbound Book Festival Conversation between Alex George and Eleanor Brown

This is the final installment of my notes and observations from the absolutely fabulous inaugural Unbound Book Festival in Columbia, Missouri, last month.

During the last event of the day, Alex George, Unbound Book Festival’s seemingly tireless festival founder and director and author of A Good American, sat down for a conversation with the very personable author of The Weird Sisters, Eleanor Brown. I found their conversation the most personal, relaxed, and enjoyable activity of the festival.

Alex and Eleanor, self-described “twins,” candidly talked about their writing processes and her soon-to-be-released novel, The Light of Paris, which Eleanor described as a story of “art, passion, and escaping other people’s expectations.”

I felt like I was sitting at a kitchen table with two fascinating and friendly authors chatting about writing; here are a few highlights:

The power of story makes us feel we are not alone; it’s reaching out to people.

The Light of Paris came about after Eleanor discovered letters her grandmother wrote home while she was living in Paris in 1924.

The Light of Paris is set in the Jazz Age in Paris during the 1920s. (Alex is also writing a book set in Paris in the 1920s.)

Eleanor’s latest book is her “never book,” something she said she’d never write -- a parallel narrative with two story lines, including letters and journals.

Parallel narratives have to connect.

Writers must know whose story it is.

First person is tricky because the narrator is unreliable.

Writers cannot control what other people think about their book.

After you’ve written it, the book belongs to the reader.

Research is important to draw forth images of place.

Can’t always be factually true, but must be emotionally true.

Either you plan out on the front end or you’ll have to on the back end.

Eleanor wrote The Weird Sisters “by the seat of my pants” and described her first draft as a “hot mess.”

The Light of Paris was planned out; her first draft took two months.

It’s scary to do something unfamiliar, but think about the “happiness of possibility.”
 
***

After a long, but thoroughly enjoyable, day Diana Graveman and I met up with my Mizzou-student granddaughter. She drove us to Trops, where we stood in a long line behind other thirsty patrons. We each bought a different kind of frozen tropical-flavored drink, which I’d describe as alcoholic snow cones. Yum! It was a delightful way to cap off a wonderful day.

I hope the Unbound Book Festival will become an annual affair. It was an inspiring and educational event for writers and readers alike.
 
And I hope my blog visitors have enjoyed these posts about the festival.

15 comments:

  1. Donna, Thank you so much for sharing new authors and insights from the notes you took at the Unbound Book Festival. The list you shared in this post resonated with what I'm working on at the present time. Loved the "happiness of possibility." I'm definitely going to search out Eleanor's books. Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Clara,
      You are welcome. I'm glad you found the notes useful. I agree about the "happiness of possibility" quote. I've already put in a reserve request at the library for Eleanor's book and found out there are several ahead of me who have requested it.

      Delete
  2. Thanks for sharing happenings and insights with those who missed it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Marcia,
      You're welcome. Hope you can make it next year.

      Delete
  3. Sounds like it was a very worthwhile event. Thanks for giving us the lowdown!

    Pat
    Critter Alley

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sounds like it was a very worthwhile event. Thanks for giving us the lowdown!

    Pat
    Critter Alley

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Pat,
      It was worthwhile. Hope you can go next year.

      Delete
  5. Thanks for sharing, Donna. Don't you love it when you connect with a presenter? Wish I had attended.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Linda,
      You are welcome. Hope you can go next year!

      Delete
  6. Donna--Thanks for taking us along with you--at least we didn't miss ALL the tidbits because you shared.

    I wish I hadn't had a dog rescue commitment--free writing events like that don't happen too often.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sioux,
      You are such a dedicated dog lover -- and writer. Hope you can go next year. It's worth the drive!

      Delete
  7. I have enjoyed your recaps. They are the next best thing to being there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Val. Maybe you can make the festival next year.

      Delete
  8. Interesting: after the book is written it belong to the reader. That is rather scary when you think about it. Glad you had such a good time...so MUCH there to absorb!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Claudia,
      It is scary that the books belongs to the reader after it's written, but so true.
      It would be great if you could make the festival next year; it's already in the planning stages.

      Delete

Interview with Sarah Angleton, the Practical Historian

For the past few years, Sarah Angleton has been a valued member of Coffee and Critique, where she has shared her stories, wit, and wisdo...