Yesterday, March 7th, I was invited to read a story (thank you Arts Etc!) for World Book Day. Confused? That’s because March 7th is UK World Book Day and April 23rd is US World Book Day. Which world is it? The UK or American world? Anyway, I won’t complain about getting to celebrate books twice.
Days Book Store, located in Independence Square, Bridgetown, Barbados celebrated World Book Day by staging an in-store open day event, where children read from their favourite story books, and then local authors read excerpts from their stories, and discussed our writing journey and the importance of reading. This event was not only free to the public, but had live internet stream, and was broadcasted on Starcom’s VOB 92.9.
Before I go any further I want to state how impressed I am with Days Book Store for their continuous support of local writers, and their efforts to develop future readers. It is so hard to find local and Caribbean books in most bookstores – many titles are found at the back of the store on ONE obscure shelf, but I guarantee that you can always find at least one local title in the display window at Days Book Store. Thank you Karen Austin, Keith Austin and the rest of the Days Bookstore team. We appreciate all that you’re doing.
Since the event was being broadcast live on radio, I had edited out all of the cuss words from the piece I was reading called Four Angry Men; a story about four old men in a rum shop talking about women, cricket and politics. You can imagine how much editing I had to do.
I arrived with my constant supporter and Lit Mom, Sandra Sealy, and was greeted by fellow writer, Mark Ramsay. I’ll pause and say this now. I believe Mark Ramsay will become the next George Lamming for Barbados. He is only 20 years old, and already has an impressive amount of awards under his belt, including the Irving Burgie Award for Award for Excellence in Literary Arts. Watch and see…
That day though, poor Mark was nervous because most of the audience in the bookstore at that time were primary school kids! Neither of us have any material suited for children! I have scenes in Four Angry Men where they drool over a woman’s breasts, and Mark, who was reading an excerpt from his story, The Generation with the World in our Mouths, was adamant that he was not responsible for children’s sexual education.
Mark did however bring a backup story of Anansi the spider. My backup story was about a little girl who has to deal with the death of her best friend.
I did not want to be responsible for traumatizing the poor kids.
Cher Corbin, the last performer, took the cake though, when she informed us of her reading choices from her upcoming novel Silvered Mirrors; a scene where a killer gets an erection and ejaculates from the sight of blood, or a scene about money-laundering politicians. You should have seen the look on the face of the Arts Etc representative, Lisa Legall-Belgrave. It was priceless and we could barely keep it together.
So for about 15 minutes we were there panicking, and trying to edit stories, looking for other books in the store to read to the kids, but then Karen put us out of our misery by assuring us that the children were leaving after the session.
More adults then joined the audience for our reading, and KB Kleen’s interviews. KB Kleen was absolutely hilarious (as usual) and the atmosphere was filled with fun and laughter. One of his better gems came when he interviewed a lady from the Barbados Association of Reading. “There is an association for everything in Barbados! If I hit my toe on this bookshelf, I could join a Stumped Toe Association”. DWL!
The audience enjoyed all of the pieces. Cher entertained with her dramatic scene in a police station, but unfortunately we didn’t have time to reach the explosive serial killer moment.
Mark captivated the audience with the climax of his story, where
the character was involved in a car accident. Although he had never been in a serious accident, KB Kleen (who unfortunately had that experience) commented that Mark put into words emotions that he was not able to express.
All of the authors gave really good insight about the importance of reading, and encouraged those who wanted careers in the creative arts. I encouraged writers to find their voice, and tell their own stories. Someone shout Chimamanda! Look at Barbadian Karen Lord’s success with her books, Redemption in Indigo and her newly released novel, The Best of All Possible Worlds. She just returned from a Writer’s Festival in Australia, and her first novel is now in US School libraries. It can happen people! All you have to do is work hard and NEVER give up!
To add icing onto the cake (and yes, there was actual cake too!), we all got gift certificates for Days Books, and of course, all of the titles I wanted to read flew out of my head. I was there wandering up and down the aisles like a zombie, touching books thinking “I can have any one, any one I want!” In the end I decided to research book titles and come back to purchase. Any excuse to return to the bookstore, right?
I cannot wait for another event like this one. You know writers are a crazy bunch, and it is always exciting when we all get together.
Maybe Days Bookstore will recreate this event on April 23rd… Until then, I’ll continue to write PG versions of my stories.