Monday, March 11, 2019

Author Jamie Ford Speaks

After spending the first two months of 2019 reading, I am back to writing my blog and hope you enjoy it.

I recently heard author Jamie Ford speak to a sold-out audience about his award-winning book Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. We each received a copy of the Special Edition 10th Anniversary Edition, which included a new short story, “Only Keiko,” an interview, a map of 1940s Seattle and an excerpt of his newest novel, Love and Other Consolation Prizes.

Ford is a New York Times Bestseller. He also has been awarded best "Adult Fiction" book at the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature. The book was also named the #1 Book Club Pick for Fall 2009/Winter 2010 by the American Booksellers Association.

The book continued to sell over the years and began to be included on school summer reading lists. The father of several teens, Ford found it humorous when he realized he had become homework.

It was as a teenager that he realized he wanted to write love stories after watching the movie “James at 15.” Love and history were his main interests.

Ford participated in writing sessions with Orson Scott Card, author of Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead.  Card recommended his students buy three out-of-print books at yard sales. Read them to look for errors and other things that seem wrong and may have led to the book being out of print, Card said. 

“Be true to reality,” he told us as he mentioned his characters, setting and story. This effort may help you realize when something is not right with your writing. It will help you be more aware of various errors and pitfalls. 

When he writes, Ford makes a timeline of what was happening during the time of his story, such as news events, music, cars, fashion, and songs. 

A question and answer period followed his talk. I found it interesting that the Panama Hotel (mentioned in the story) is still there. You can look down a glass panel in the floor and see the suitcases and other items stored there by the Japanese before they were taken to internment camps.

I had learned about these camps but had given little thought to the effects the Pearl Harbor attack had on the lives of Japanese and Chinese people in this country. Ford captures the confusion and fear in this story of two young people in Seattle in the 1940s and then one in the 1980s.

His novel Love and Other Consolation Prizes was supposedly inspired by a true story of a twelve-year-old boy raffled off as a prize at the 1909 Seattle World Fair. Like Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, it offers interesting characters, historical details, and insights about morality, race, and culture, as does his novel Songs of Willow Frost.

I now have some more books to add to my “To Read” list. You can learn more about Ford’s books at

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