20 August 2010

Bamboo People Book Launch Party

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the book launch party for Mitali Perkins' latest YA novel, Bamboo People. It was held at the Porter Square Bookstore in Cambridge, MA, which is quite the comfy indie and easily accessible for suburbanites like myself, (despite my GPS' devious scheme to send me via the most circuitous route possible.) I have met Mitali a few times before at tweet-ups (and was even fortunate enough to snag a signed copy of the Bamboo People arc at ALA,) and I am a loyal follower of all her super-helpful and informative tweets. But this was the first opportunity I had to hear her talk about her writing process and influences. She described how it was a 12 year journey for her novel, which actually started life as a picture book (I immediately thought of Sid Fleischman and The Whipping Boy, which underwent a similar transformation.) She shared a moving personal story about her grandfather, which put into perspective the relationship of the two central protagonists. And she paid due homage to the influence of video games on the novel. Yes, video games. She also talked a lot about the country of Burma, where the story takes place. Before I read this book, my own knowledge of the situation in Burma--also known as Myanmar--was limited, although not completely lacking (I am an Economist reader, after all!) For anyone who is unaware of what is happening in Burma, the book will be a thought-provoking eye opener.

After a brief talk, we were treated to Mitali reading an excerpt from the book. Then it was Q&A time. I always wish I could think of good questions in these situations. Fortunately other people had more of a clue then me, and asked great questions. When asked how her faith influences her writing, Mitali talked about how she tries to reconcile her personal wish to put others before herself, to pursue and be ever mindful about issues pertaining to justice and compassion, while working in a profession which basically requires self-promotion if she hopes to succeed. She likes writing about young teens, because she thinks it's a fantastic age to be. (I had to throw myself in the way-back machine when thinking about that one. In general, I think she's correct!) And she shared her ambition to write a funny book. She also reiterated at many points during the evening, the importance--the power even--of stories. It's a timeless truth which cannot be repeated often enough (as any librarian will tell you!) Stories can influence and mobilize whole populaces, as well as provide comfort on an individual level.  

At the end of the evening I snagged myself a signed copy of Monsoon Summer (which I plan to read on vacation next week.) I was highly amused and flattered when Mitali told me that she uses my Red Sox tweets to prepare for the mood of her husband, who watches the games on time-delay (I think a 'LOL' is appropriate here!) I'll have to remember that the next time I am trying to justify my obsessive tweeting to my husband--I provide a public service!

All in all, it was a great evening. You just can't beat sitting in a bookstore with like-minded enthusiasts, listening to an author proudly present their latest book. And since I had been following the progress of Bamboo People on-line through Mitali's numerous tweets and updates, I felt a real vested interest in the book myself.  If you are in Dedham next week, and would like to meet the personable Mitali Perkins yourself, stop by the Blue Bunny Thursday August 26th.

No comments:

Add This


Blog Widget by LinkWithin