Jamie Ford's Blog, page 4

April 24, 2014

Selfie time with Maria Semple and readers! Photo by Justus.We came. We saw. We pimped free books like it was nobody's business. Here are a few highlights of World Book Night:

A lovely kick-off event at Elliott Bay Books with Maria Semple (who is hilarious, spontaneous, and my new personal hero). Most memorable was Maria's tale of a Buddhist monk telling her that writers don't need to trouble themselves with the normal disciplines of Buddhism because writers are creators and therefore bodhisattvas and have karmic "GET OUT OF JAIL FREE" cards. Sign me up.

This photo on Instagram says it all.Signing books. And more books. Especially books at The Wing Luke Museum which now has enough signed books to build an ark. If you need a signed book (or are expecting high water) this is the place to go.

Giving books away at the actual Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet otherwise known as the Panama Hotel. Truth be told, I stayed at the Alexis where I immediately ran into Jan Johnson the owner of the Panama who jokingly dubbed me a "traitor" for not staying at her place. What can I say? I have a deep abiding weakness for 24-hour room service.

Then it was off to Lummi Island (pronounced Gummy, like the bears), where I read the first chapter of my currently untitled Book #3.

I always take my first chapter out for a test drive and this was the first time. My wife hasn't even read it. Must have been that ol' World Book Night magic in the air.

But the best part was hearing from all the book giver volunteers out there. THANK YOU. There's a special place for you in Heaven. I'm pretty sure it's a kick-ass library.

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Published on April 24, 2014 15:32 • 43 views

April 21, 2014

World Book Night US is upon us and soon 500,000 books will be given away in cities and towns all over the US. In that mix will be 50,000 copies of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet that my publisher has donated (and I waived all royalties).

The idea is for volunteer givers to pass out books to under served communities--everything from homeless shelters and prisons, to college campuses and starving college students (because honestly, if you're paying $275 for a textbook can you actually afford books to read for pleasure?)

Plus, this is an opportunity to just give books away, to share the joy of reading, to promote literacy. Speaking of, I had the privilege of meeting three students (from the US, Syria, and Romania) in an adult literacy program for whom Hotel was the first book they had ever read. How cool is that! It was an honor beyond any bestseller list.

So to do my part, I'll be at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle tomorrow with fellow author, Maria Semple, as we kick-off this wonderful, beautiful, crazy thing. And then on Weds I'll be at the Panama Hotel at 11:00am, giving away books, while they last. And some fine folks from the Wing Luke Asian Museum will be giving away books later that afternoon on the actual corner of Bitter & Sweet. Which is actually the corner of 6th & Main (which didn't sound quite as sexy as Bitter & Sweet, as far as book titles go).

Have a great World Book Night!

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Published on April 21, 2014 08:01 • 83 views

April 18, 2014

Lately our intrepid dog, Dexter, also known as "The World's Best Shelter Dog of All Time" has been pulling a Houdini and somehow sneaking out of the backyard. So, to figure out his tricks I hooked him up with a GoPro camera. This is what we discovered this week. (No animals or mailmen were injured in the making of this video).


And on a non-canine note, I'll be in Seattle next week for World Boook Night US and giving away books on the corner of Bitter and Sweet, otherwise known as 6th and Main (at the Panama Hotel). More on that this weekend.

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Published on April 18, 2014 15:53 • 88 views

April 16, 2014

World Book Night US is next week! Which means that volunteer givers have been receiving boxes of books and assorted goodies.

One of these givers, Kalpana of New Orleans, asked if I would write a special note that she could add to the books she'll be passing out. I said "yes" of course, but why let Bourbon Street givers have all the fun?

So here's a letter that you can include as well, if you're so inclined. Either way--thank you for volunteering, thank you for giving, and stay safe!



Hi there,

If you’re reading this note, that means that (giver name) has given you a copy of my book, Hotel on the Corner of You Know What, and for that I’m as happy as a 2nd grade girl with a truck-load of Hello Kitty pencil toppers.

Seriously, I’m that happy.

Because not only did someone publish my book (that someone being Random House), and not only has it been translated into 34 languages (c’mon Estonia, the pressure’s on), but best of all, my novel has been chosen to be given away for FREE on World Book Night—to YOU! And for that, I'm thrilled.

So, where do you fit in to all of this? Well, I hope you read it. I hope you enjoy it. And I hope it’s a literary gateway drug to other interesting, entertaining, and enlightening books. And I hope you share it with others.

And if you really, really, REALLY enjoy it, I hope you’ll hit me up on the usual social mediums, like Twitter. I’d love to hear from you when the glitter settles.

Happy reading and happy World Book Night!

Your pal,



P.S. The best way to thank your giver is to become one yourself (next year!)


And for those of you reading this in the Seattle area, I'll be at the Elliott Bay Book Company next Tuesday for a World Book Night kick-off event with Maria Semple (Where'd You Go, Bernadette?) See you there!

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Published on April 16, 2014 13:03 • 137 views

April 11, 2014

Lovely Bones and Almost Moon. Water For Elephants and Ape House. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love. Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons. The Historian and The Swan Thieves. The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.

What do all of these sibling books have in common? They were wonderful breakthrough novels and the book that followed, struggled, and in some instances succeeded in escaping the enormous shadow cast by the previous book.

The follow-up that had the most success was Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns, which, interestingly enough, was originally woven in as part of The Kite Runner. A problem in the beginning that proved to be an incredible advantage? Perhaps.

With Song of Willow Frost I tried to give my second book its own time in the spotlight. But is that even fundamentally possible? Or will Willow Frost always be the Jan Brady of my books because of its unfavorable birth order. I'm still waiting to figure it all out. Occasionally I get an email from a reader who loved SONGS but hasn't read HOTEL, so you never know? But more often it's the opposite.

And as I'm fortunate enough to be reading Garth Stein's new novel A Sudden Light (his follow up to his prodigious bestseller The Art of Racing in the Rain) I'm struggling not to compare the two. His new book is utterly captivating. In fact, I'm eager to finish this post so I can get back to the book.

But when I close that final page, will I be able to forget Enzo? We'll see...

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Published on April 11, 2014 12:30 • 78 views

April 10, 2014

Kentucky was amazing. Despite the Wildcats losing to UCONN the folks in the Bluegrass State were in high spirits, especially the students, who turned out in droves (okay, in busses, but you know what I mean). We even went full-tilt selfie a few times which was too much fun. Thanks Carla!

Speaking of fun, this image of yours truly speaking in a classroom was just dyyyyyying to be photoshopped. Dying, I tell you. A blank screen is alike a blank canvas. It needs some attention.

Next up: World Book Night in Seattle. There's a kick-off event at Elliott Bay Book Company where I'll be teaming up with the amazing Maria Semple who wrote Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

See. You. There.


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Published on April 10, 2014 08:41 • 36 views

April 8, 2014

(If yesterday's post got you riled up, imagine my reaction when someone within the film industry said that my commentary was total BS and that I was ill-informed. Um...to that kindly gentleman, all I can say is that my quote was V-E-R-B-A-T-I-M. Not sure how much room there was for misinterpretation?)

But, that's the beauty and interactivity of social media, which I love. Probably because I was using it when the online world was more like anti-social media--back in the days of BBS's, Prodigy, Compuserve, AOL, and now Facebook (I completely skipped MySpace because the interface was like a huge quantum leap backwards).

Which leads me to Google+, which was the new hotness last year for all of month. I have 129,089 followers on Google+ as of this posting. That's about 127,000 follower more than I have on Facebook, but my friends/fans/followers on Facebook actually interact with me. Whereas on Google+ I mainly hear the sound of crickets chirping. Which begs the question, who are these "social" followers on Google+?

I'm guessing they're click-farmers, employed by Google in some bizarre fashion to make Google+ seem--what's the word I'm looking for? Alive? Useful? Relevant?

And then on the other side of the ledger we have the official, validated pages of celebrities (like on Twitter) which are undoubtedly run by publicists. So here you have fake people tweeting to fake followers. Which has a zenlike irony about it.

So despite the vagaries of the web (and occasional heckler), I must say that I'm grateful for real people. Even the ones who are occasionally surprised that it's really me.

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Published on April 08, 2014 10:43 • 41 views

April 7, 2014

Ah, the movie question. Yup. It comes up a lot. So much that I might as well get out there with the truth of why Henry and Keiko are not welcome on the corner of Hollywood and Vine. Are you ready? Are you sitting down? It's okay...I'll wait.

The answer can be summed up in the question that was often asked of me when I met with several Hollywood producers and that was, "How do we mitigate the financial risk without a white male lead?"

I'll pause and let that soak in for a moment. While you're soaking, take a look at this image of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. I'll get to that in a sec.

Now where was I? Oh yes, Hollywood. Well, in case you're wondering, my answer to the aforementioned question was "First, you need to go perform hideous obscenities upon yourself." And the conversation went downhill from there.

Is Hollywood inherently racist? No. Seriously, they're not. But film making is a business that plays to the averages and in this case, the average ticket buyer is Caucasian, often male. So that leaves a movie where the main characters are Chinese and Japanese out of the realm of commercial viability.

Sure, there's always going to be a Slumdog Millionaire, but that's an outlier so far out I can't even think of another multicultural movie that had that kind of success in the US. Because there are no good stories? No, because no one is willing to take a chance. And despite selling more than a million copies of Hotel, my book is still a gamble most Hollywood financiers are unwilling to take. They'd rather dump the GNP of a small island nation into a film like, oh, say...Battleship.

Which brings me to the sidebar of this whole thing and that's Wonder Woman. We've had how many films staring Batman and Superman? (And coming soon, Batman vs. Superman, in which Wonder Woman gets to be IN the film, but isn't part of the title).

Is it because the character of Wonder Woman was once a Charlie's Angel-esque, T&A, 70's icon? Perhaps. But I'm guessing it's because to Hollywood, she's a bad bet--a poor wager. Why take the chance? Which makes me sad. Because if Hollywood is just now trying to figure out how to do a "white female lead" like Diana Prince AKA Wonder Woman, what chance do Henry & Keiko have?

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Published on April 07, 2014 10:05 • 91 views

April 6, 2014

Kass, holding the model we began with.Yes, that's a punching bag named BOB.The TARDIS bookcase has landed!Since so many people have been asking about the TARDIS these days, I thought I'd give y'all the skinny on the "big blue box" upstairs. For those of you that don't watch Dr. Who, TARDIS stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space--it's basically a police call-box that the good Doctor uses to travel though time and space.

But the one we have in Kassie's room is also (wait for it) a bookcase.

All of my daughters are big readers, but Kassie is the most voracious of the bunch and also a mega Dr. Who fan (or Whovian). So for her birthday we went a little nuts and surprised her with the TARDIS.

Where does one find a TARDIS, you might ask? Well, I scoured the Internet for plans, and while websites like the Blue Box Project were incredibly helpful, ultimately I just went to Hastings and bought a small model and we scaled the plans up from there (those high school drafting classes came in handy). A full-scale TARDIS is almost ten feet tall, so our plans were 85% of scale. Also, there's now an official TARDIS Blue: Pantone 2955C. You can't buy it off the shelf but the kindly folks at your local paint store can mix it up.

From there I went straight to the pros at Precision Woodworks (and blew their minds with this rather odd project). They did an amazing job and then I added graphics culled from a Dr. Who door poster.

Could I build this thing myself? Absolutely. And it would look absolutely terrible! I'll stick to building hovercrafts


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Published on April 06, 2014 08:01 • 65 views

April 5, 2014

Well, it's official, I've become homework.

I knew this was happening as each summer I'd get bombarded with a bevy of emails from high school students around the country all saying something like: "Um...Mr. Ford? Your book, Motel on the Corner of Sweet and Sour? Um...well, it's my favorite book of ALL TIME. And if you could just answer these twelve questions, I'd really appreciate it."

Well now I've been told that a group of intrepid social studies teachers have made HOTEL required reading in Washington State (for 9th graders). And as I was on tour last week I wandered into a local B&N and lo and behold what do I see but my book and this sign--right next to Sylvia Plath! (I'm not worthy...)

And in related news, I found a bunch of amusing and heartfelt tweets from high school students who are reading HOTEL:

@MoriahCobb - Nobody read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. It will slowly tear out your heart, and your will cry your eyes out. #StupidEnglishClass

@catchmeifyaKEN - Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet is actually so depressing...i can't read this. #thisiswhyidontread

@youroldpalnick - WHO HAS A STUDY GUIDE SITE THAT HAS "Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet". Sparknotes didn't have it. This is an emergency! #PLZ

(That one kinda get's your "right there" doesn't it.)

@whats_GACCI - Anyone wanna give me a good summary of hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet!?... (willing to pay in cash)

@bananaalannah - I would rather read Animal Farm everyday of my whole life than fucking read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

@ex0hEmma - More like hotel on the corner of (this book sucks boulevard) bitter and sweet.

That last one is my personal favorite. I love it. Little do they know that I'm fueled creatively by the angst of teenagers. Happy reading, kids!

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Published on April 05, 2014 08:17 • 73 views