Sunday, January 12, 2014

Laurie Halse Anderson Speaks in St. Paul

Laurie Halse Anderson Speaks in St. Paul

Carrie Mesrobian, author of the new YA book, Sex and Violence, introduced Laurie Halse Anderson today at the Harriet Island Pavillon in St. Paul.  Carrie is a creative writing teacher at the Loft Literary center.

Laurie Halse Anderson's vibrant personality showed as she spoke to a crowded room about her books.  Speak is her most famous book and it is the 15 year anniversary of its publication this year.  A bad dream changed everything for Laurie.  She has had recurring nightmares all her life.  One night she woke up and wrote down the bad dream and it became part of her book, Speak.

When Laurie grew up she had a hard time learning how to read.  She hated English class in high school, even though she was reading everything in the school library and was stealing her favorite books.  She got through high school English class with the help of Cliff Notes.

Laurie's newest book The Impossible Knife of Memory is based on her father who has PTSD.  Laurie described her father and his memories to us and became a little emotional and several of us in the audience got choked up.  Laurie's dad was 18 years old when he enlisted in WWII as it was nearing the end of the war.  He was sent to Dachau concentration camp as it was liberated and part of his job as soldier was to bury the dead.  He never forgot this horrible experience and after the war became a pastor.  When Laurie was in middle school, his PTSD was raging and he was self-medicating.  In their home there was never any discussion of what happened to him during the war.  She stated that as he ages, he is becoming more and more forgetful but he never forgets his war experience.  At age 87, he still wakes up screaming.

Here are some books and authors that Laurie recommended to the audience;
The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
Longbourn by Jo Baker
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
On Writing by Stephen King
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
John Green,
Sarah Dessen,
William Faulkner
James Joyce.

I had 7 of my books signed today by Laurie.  I have now 8 of her books signed and on my "trophy" bookshelf.

On a side note:  Laurie told us about her bookish tattoo located on the underside of wrist.  It is the first word from the book Beowulf.

I am so glad I went to see Laurie Halse Anderson today.  It is so great to learn about an author and be inspired by them.

Thanks Laurie!!

P.S. Laurie, I want you to know we have a lot in common, maybe that is why I love your books.