I’ve always been a book nerd. Obvious, right?
Mostly that has meant being an avid reader, buying too many books and spending lots of time in libraries. One of the best things is when I have an opportunity to meet a favorite author. Way back in high school, when I was reading Black authors that they did not teach at my school, I remember learning of James Baldwin’s death on the evening news. I had just started reading some of his work, but already loved the idea of him. A Black expatriate living in France, the place I dreamed of visiting. I was sad that I would never have the chance to meet him in person. I’d never met an author at that point (that I can remember), so it seems odd that I thought about that.
A couple of years later as a college student I relished the many opportunities to meet authors and hear them read their work. I had Gloria Wade-Gayles as a professor, heard Toni Morrison at Spelman, and skipped an exam to hear Maya Angelou on another campus. (I did make up the exam after the fact, though).
I’m fortunate to have met many of my favorite authors. And I am going to write about those encounters occasionally, just to get the memories down. I’ll start with meeting hearing Tananarive Due in 1995 at NABJ in Philadelphia. She was a reporter/columnist at the Miami Herald and had a new book out, The Between. And I thought she was amazing. Then I read the book and I knew I was right. After NABJ I went to a reporter’s workshop in Alabama with some of the reporters from the newspaper where I worked. I remember being very frustrated with them because I hadn’t driven my own car and they wanted to hang out. All I wanted to do was get back to the hotel and keep reading The Between.
Since then I’ve been a big fan of hers and I’m so grateful to have heard her speak again, meet her incredible family and have her as a writing instructor at VONA. (She is an incredible writing instructor and coach and is now teaching at Spelman College in Atlanta). Tananarive Due’s latest book, My Soul to Take, an installment of her African immortals series, is out this fall. And I can’t wait to read it.