News from Heidi
Here you can find news about the book, festival, and what's happening with Heidi.
Some of you may know that my real grandmother was in part an inspiration for the character Grandma Doris in my novel. You know all those funny things Grandma Doris says in the book?--well, my grandmother likely said something similar. My real grandmother died last week at the age of 96 after a couple of years of declining health. Grandma grew up in segregated Texas and married my grandfather "the paperboy" as a teenager. In the late 1940s she moved to the Pacific Northwest and the couple soon divorced. Grandma went on to raise three children on her own working as a domestic helper and managed to buy her own house. We laid her to rest last week with heavy hearts, but with the knowledge that she is now at peace and maybe she will finally find her "rooster" in Heaven.
I will miss my grandmother. Many of you got a chance to see her when she was introduced on Portland's Morning Show, or at many of my book events in Portland over the last three years, including the Everybody Reads event. If you didn't meet her, learn a little about her from this little video I made about her life. In the video, she reveals the recipe to living such a long life.
Please check out this great piece on the founding roots of marriage equality that I curated for Loving Day. Hippo Reads is a great resource to learn a lot about a topic very quickly. Read the article here.
This is my first New York Times essay piece. It's called "It's OK to be Intrigued." Please check it out and leave a comment! (This is a photo from my parents' wedding in Denmark.)
I was really impressed by this video I discovered this morning. I don't know who is behind it but it's so charming I had to share.
On this day in 1891, the amazingly talented writer (and fellow Afro-Viking) Nella Larsen was born. Thinking of her today and giving thanks for her work and her life. It changed my life that I was able to honor her by installing a headstone on her grave in 2006. I hope one day I'll have the honor of seeing her novel Passing on the big screen (I co-wrote an adaptation). But I am so glad her memory lives on.
“Then you make—oh, fifteen years later, several thousand drinks later, two or three divorces, God knows how many broken friendships and an exile of one kind or another—some kind of breakthrough, which is your first articulation of who you are: that is to say, your first articulation of who you suspect we all are . . . [Y]ou make your first breakthrough [as an artist], people have heard your name—and here comes the world again. The world you first encountered when you were fifteen. The world which has starved you, despised you. Here it comes again. This time it is bearing gifts. The phone didn’t ring before—if you had a phone. Now it never stops ringing. Instead of people saying, ‘What do you do?’ they say,’Won’t you do this?’ And you become, or you could become a Very Important Person. And then—and this is a confession—you find yourself in the position of a woman I don’t know who sings a certain song in a certain choir and the song begins: ‘I said I wasn’t gonna tell nobody but I couldn’t keep it to myself.’ You’ve come full circle. Here you are again, with it all to do all over again, and you must decide all over again whether you want to be famous or whether you want to write. And the two things, in spite of all the evidence,have nothing whatever in common.”--James Baldwin, "The Artist’s Struggle for Integrity"
27 authors have banded together to put together a year’s worth of reading for 2 lucky winners. Here are the rules:
Sign-up for the contest by leaving your name and email address in the comment section here. Every entrant will have a chance to win 27 books.
In order to win as many books as possible, you must add each book to your Goodreads shelf through the links provided below. Click the link and then click the WANT TO READ button below the book’s image. If you add all 27 books and you win, then you’ll get 27 books. If you only add 2, then you only get 2, etc. (Note: if all you have done is “enter”, and you are chosen, you will win one book of your choice among the 27.)
The original contest will be for 2 winners; for each 500 entry milestone we will add another winner with a maximum of 5 winners. So when we get to 500 entries, there will be 3 winners. 1000 will be 4 winners, 1500 and over will be 5 winners. The winners will be chosen by random number generation and will be contacted through the email address they provided. US and Canada only. Runs March 15-22, 2013. (Note: some books may not be available until their publication dates.)
- Click here to add HIDDEN by Catherine McKenzie to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add SEDUCTION by MJ Rose to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add THE UNFINISHED WORK OF ELIZABETH D by Nichole Bernier
- Click here to add THE COMFORT OF LIES by Randy Susan Myers to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add IN NEED OF A GOOD WIFE by Kelly O’Connor McNees to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add ORPHAN TRAIN by Christina Baker Kline to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add GLOW by Jessica Maria Tuccelli to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add BY FIRE BY WATER by Mitchell James Kaplan to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add THE WEDNESDAY DAUGHTERS by Meg Waite Clayton to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add MURDER BELOW MONT PARNASSE by Cara Black to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add THE LAST WILL OF MOIRA LEAHY by Therese Walsh to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add THE HOUSE OF VELVET AND GLASS by Katherine Howe to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add AFTER YOU by Julie Buxbaum to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add A SIMPLE THING by Kathleen McCleary to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add KITCHEN CHINESE by Ann Mah to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add THE DOCTOR AND THE DIVA by Adrienne McDonnell to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add WHY CAN’T I BE YOU by Allie Larkin to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add NO ONE YOU KNOW by Michelle Richmond
- Click here to add THE SHORTEST WAY HOME by Juliette Fay to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add STUDIO SAINT-EX by Ania Szado to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add HOUR OF THE RAT by Lisa Brackmann to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add THE SEARCH ANGEL by Tish Cohen to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add THE BIRD SISTERS by Rebecca Rasmussen to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add THE HEADMASTER’S WAGER by Vincent Lam to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add DEATH IN THE FLOATING CITY by Tasha Alexander to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add THE GIRL WHO FELL FROM THE SKY by Heidi Durrow to your Goodreads shelf
- Click here to add THE PAINTED GIRLS by Cathy Marie Buchanan to your Goodreads shelf
I am often asked about the real story that inspired The Girl Who Fell From the Sky. I will never tell.
First, I feel incredibly protective of the real girl. Yes, there is a real girl out there somewhere. She deserves to live her life without a reminder of that horrible day, that horrible tragedy. And it's not entirely clear that she even would remember what happened. It's very likely that she suffered traumatic amnesia. And then beyond that--the story that I have written is not her story--I did try to do that initially but it didn't work. I didn't know enough about her. So I wrote about what I knew: I wrote about growing up black and Danish and feeling like America's ideas of race and culture divorced me from my mom because people couldn't see her in me.
I write this today because I woke up to read the horrifying story about the Harlem mother who jumped from an eight-story building with her baby in her arms and the child survived. I received a ton of messages from readers about the story. It was as if they wanted a moment to grieve with me because I understood what that meant because of my book. I'm not sure. But I was glad to get their messages and not feel so alone in the sadness I felt about another woman feeling so unsure that she could protect and take care of her child she thought it best to take him out of the world too.
This post is a bit of ramble--written in the heat of grief and bewilderment--but there is one message I want to be very clear: to any sleuthing readers who want to find the "real girl" who was the inspiration of the book. STOP! DON'T! Give her that gift of peace and of grace. Know simply that her story of survival inspired the survivor in me and maybe in you too.
I have been researching the life of Miss Lala for years and am working on a novel that fictionalizes her life. Who knew that she was on everyone's mind? Check out this story in the NY Times about the exhibition that opened this week at the Morgan Library in New York. I know a lot more than the curators about her life -- in fact, I found a new photograph of her recently that's never been published. It was like looking into her soul. So wish me words as I continue working on the book--ETA unknown, but it's definitely in the works!
At last, the webcast of CNN Dialogue's inaugural discussion in Atlanta is ready for view. The panel, which was moderated by CNN's Wolf Blitzer, included fellow panelists Kris Marsh, Yul Kwon, Dana Young and Edward James Olmos. I was there as the author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky-- talking about the Census and the New America. It was an awesome experience and spirited discussion. I hope you will enjoy it. You can view it here. Or watch it embedded below.