5 QUESTIONS

WITH JAMIE FORD

Our bookseller Sandra got the chance to ask one of her favorite authors five questions. Of course she couldn't stop at just five...
Jamie Ford is the bestselling author of Songs of Willow Frost, one of our Best Books of 2013.
 
Songs of Willow FrostJamie Ford
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and SweetJamie Ford
 

January 27, 2009 I was working at the SeaTac Airport, and at the time, I was employed by Borders Books and we were featuring a brand new release, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet . I was hooked from page one and began recommending this book to everyone I spoke to. When Borders sadly went out of business, I continued to carry the torch, becoming the Book Manager for Hudson Booksellers at SeaTac. I promoted Songs of Willow Frost  with a review in our Best Books of 2013  brochure.


Thank you! And I’m sorry about Charlotte on page 184. I tried to talk her out of it.
 

As a fellow “hopeless romantic”, I nearly cried when I heard that you met your wife at the public library and proposed at a bookstore! What role does Leesha play in your writing process? Does she assist in research or give you a wide berth?


I did meet Leesha at the public library. And it wasn’t even singles night, nor was I hanging out in the 300 Section hitting on strange women (for those who don’t remember your Dewey Decimal System, the 300s are Human Sexuality). It was just the wonderful, magical, public library.
As far as how Leesha factors into my writing—she’s my wise reader. She marks up the pages with “Stop being lazy, show me!” or “Sorry, white-girl moment, I have no idea what this Chinese thing is.” Every writer needs that kind of honesty.
 

I grew up in West Seattle and experienced desegregation of Seattle Public Schools, with many Asian-American students being bussed to West Seattle High School from Beacon Hill. I value the friendships that this created, however, I really only scratched the surface of learning about the Asian culture. Your book really opened my eyes to how life in Seattle was for many immigrants. Can you give us an example of your school-age memories, and how you were treated?


Most of my memories revolve around the slow, coming-of-age awareness that I was not like everyone else. From having a Chinese father with a Caucasian wife, which was quite uncommon. (It seemed like it was just Bruce Lee and my dad). To never feeling Chinese enough because I didn’t speak Cantonese, but also never feeling white enough because I ate things like dried cuttlefish, which freaked out my friends.
That catharsis culminated on a college application where I had to check a box for White or Asian. There was no box for half, so I’m left thinking, what am I, and which parent do I care more about today?
 

Since history is such an important element of your writing, I wonder which decade you would wish to visit or live in if time-travel was possible.


Oh, this is a question I’ve actually pondered since the third grade. My answer now is the same as when I was eight years old. I’d go back in time to June 1938 and buy Action Comics #1 (first appearance of Superman!) Then I’d move on to Marvel Mystery Comics, Detective Comics, basically my time-travel fantasy revolves around comic books.
I know, I should probably give some sage-like answer about going back and watching the signing of the Declaration of Independence or I should kill a young Adolf Hitler during WWI, but…*sigh*…what can I say? I was that oddball in high school who thought Stan Lee was infinitely cooler than Hugh Hefner.
 

Two words that I would use to describe you are “Humble” and “Sensitive”. What two words would your kids use to describe you?


Total geek. (See previous answer). I’m the one who drags them to wait in line for midnight showings of movies; I pass out comics on Halloween, and I still play D&D once a month (Leesha plays too!). Luckily my children appreciate my geek cred. Here’s a Tardis bookshelf that we built for my daughter’s birthday.
 
 

One of my favorite quotes from a previous interview regarding an author’s morning beverage was: “A freshly squeezed glass of my own tears.” There is definitely something that draws us to heartbreak, tragedy and loss. Like Henry, is there a person, place or thing that haunts your memory?


I embrace the melancholy that saturates places like the Panama Hotel, or the Wah Mee Club in Seattle’s International District.
The Wah Mee was a back-room gambling parlor that became the location of the worst mass-murder in Washington State history (thirteen people died there in 1983). But it’s also where my grandparents met in 1928. My grandfather was a blackjack dealer and my grandmother was a coat-check girl.
Mysteriously, the place burned down on Christmas Eve two years ago, but it still haunts my imagination.
 
 

I cannot wait (at least not very patiently!) for your new novel to be released. I know that you are busy in the editing phase, and I really appreciate you taking the time to tell us about a few more tidbits of your life. Please let us know the next time that you will be traveling through SeaTac, I would be thrilled to see you again and would love to have a few autographed copies of books to put into the hands of more travelers!


Always. See you soon!
   
Wednesday, June 8, 2016 - 1:00pm