“Nothing Fancy” in Fairhope, Alabama – 8th Workshop on the road :)

I’m catching up on the blog this morning because we’ve been so busy crisscrossing Alabama we just fell asleep at night, too sleepy to post.

Anyway, we loved our visit to Fairhope, Alabama on Monday afternoon. This little coastal town in Alabama is a special place to me, especially PAGE & PALETTE, an indie bookstore where we go way back to 2005, our very first visit to Fairhope.

http://www.pageandpalette.com/

Back in 2005, when Lucy was in 8th grade and my first children’s novel, GENTLE’S HOLLER, was published, she and I traveled to Alabama together where she made a documentary of a mother/daughter book tour for an 8th grade project. And our very first visit/writing workshop together was to PAGE & PALETTE. I don’t even remember how I found the store, but I asked the owner, Karin Wilson, if she wanted a writing workshop for kids, she said yes! Then I looked at the map and discovered that Fairhope is right down on the Gulf just across the bay from Mobile, and we were flying into Birmingham. Anyway, we never dreamed that eight years later, we’d be coming back with a book we’d collaborated on together. Lucy even had her first oyster in Fairhope. (She had two and at age 14 that was enough.)

In 2005, we never even dreamed we’d ever be living in Alabama. The Harper Lee book wasn’t even on the radar, and I’d not yet heard of Kathryn Tucker Windham or Charlie Lucas. But sometimes things connect and connect some more, and Gentle’s Holler led me to write my Smoky Mountain trilogy, which led me to Nelle Harper Lee, which led me to Kathryn and Charlie. Sometimes, you can’t plan a thing but it all happens anyway.

And this past Monday, our publisher, Ashley Gordon, of Mockingbird Publishers of Fairhope came to the workshop with her two wonderful boys, and we filled the upstairs loft with kids and adults making trees and telling stories. A father also brought his five children to the workshop, and his oldest son, Daniel, told me of the novel he was writing. His little brothers and sisters made trees and told stories of their trees. Kids have been talking about the trees they love and how the leaves and branches are like stories that connect us.

We’ll be posting about Monroeville and Dothan later today. Now I’ve got to pack for Los Angeles and meet students this morning. But I will say this book tour has been so special with Lucy and Norah and Olive in tow. Lucy is also a great driver, so it’s been astonishing to hand over the wheel to her. She’s even learned to pass timber trucks on the back-roads. Brave girl! 🙂

Much more soon. And a huge thanks to Ashley Gordon for taking us down to the Gulf to wade in the water after the workshop. Fairhope is so pretty I could stay there and just write for a summer. Maybe one day. Then we had pizza and loaded up and found our way to Monroeville, Alabama – home of Harper Lee and Truman Capote. That’s coming up next!

Other links:

Lucy’s first trip to Fairhope (journal entries from 2005)

http://mountainmist.livejournal.com/2005/04/25/

http://mountainmist.livejournal.com/2005/04/29/

Norah’s blog about her first trip to Alabama in 2008

http://www.capitolbook.com/Alabama%20Trip%202008.htm

http://www.mockingbirdpublishing.com/

 

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About Kerry Madden

Kerry writes books for kids and teaches creative writing. Her books include: Offsides, Writing Smarts, Gentle's Holler, Louisiana's Song, Jessie's Mountain, Up Close Harper Lee, and Nothing Fancy About Kathryn and Charlie. She writes essays for the LA Times among other places and divided her life between Birmingham and Los Angeles. Her newest book, Ernestine's Milky Way, will be published by Schwartz & Wade (Random House) in 2019. She is on the faculty at Antioch's Low Residency MFA Program and the Director of Creative Writing at UAB.
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