Heidi W. DurrowHeidi W. Durrow

News from Heidi

Here you can find news about the book, festival, and what's happening with Heidi.

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James Baldwin On Being An Artist & Staying True

I started blogging seven years ago as a struggling novelist seeking community.  And to a certain degree I came to blogging as a woman who was learning how to trust her own voice.
Today, I am a published novelist--my book was met with great critical and commercial acclaim.  I was dubbed a Power 100 Leader by Ebony Magazine.  I've met so many wonderful readers traveling the country almost non-stop for three years; I've had wonderful opportunities like walking the red carpet for the Image Awards and hanging out with Vanessa Williams at the after-party, appearing on CNN and NPR and the NBC Nightly News, speaking at the Schnitz to an audience of 2500 people who had all read my book.  The dream I had came true!  I got my big break -- now what?
I re-read this quote by James Baldwin and thought: he really gets what it means to be an artist--not just a success story.  Words to live by.  Thank you once again, Mr. James Baldwin!
“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, 27 Books to Win!

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.)

  1. Click here to add HIDDEN by Catherine McKenzie to your Goodreads shelf
  2. Click here to add SEDUCTION by MJ Rose to your Goodreads shelf
  3. Click here to add THE UNFINISHED WORK OF ELIZABETH D by Nichole Bernier
  4. Click here to add THE COMFORT OF LIES by Randy Susan Myers to your Goodreads shelf
  5. Click here to add IN NEED OF A GOOD WIFE by Kelly O’Connor McNees to your Goodreads shelf
  6. Click here to add ORPHAN TRAIN by Christina Baker Kline to your Goodreads shelf
  7. Click here to add GLOW by Jessica Maria Tuccelli to your Goodreads shelf
  8. Click here to add BY FIRE BY WATER by Mitchell James Kaplan to your Goodreads shelf
  9. Click here to add THE WEDNESDAY DAUGHTERS by Meg Waite Clayton to your Goodreads shelf
  10. Click here to add MURDER BELOW MONT PARNASSE by Cara Black to your Goodreads shelf
  11. Click here to add THE LAST WILL OF MOIRA LEAHY by Therese Walsh to your Goodreads shelf
  12. Click here to add THE HOUSE OF VELVET AND GLASS by Katherine Howe to your Goodreads shelf
  13. Click here to add AFTER YOU by Julie Buxbaum to your Goodreads shelf
  14. Click here to add A SIMPLE THING by Kathleen McCleary to your Goodreads shelf
  15. Click here to add KITCHEN CHINESE by Ann Mah to your Goodreads shelf
  16. Click here to add THE DOCTOR AND THE DIVA by Adrienne McDonnell to your Goodreads shelf
  17. Click here to add WHY CAN’T I BE YOU by Allie Larkin to your Goodreads shelf
  18. Click here to add NO ONE YOU KNOW by Michelle Richmond
  19. Click here to add THE SHORTEST WAY HOME by Juliette Fay to your Goodreads shelf
  20. Click here to add STUDIO SAINT-EX by Ania Szado to your Goodreads shelf
  21. Click here to add HOUR OF THE RAT by Lisa Brackmann to your Goodreads shelf
  22. Click here to add THE SEARCH ANGEL by Tish Cohen to your Goodreads shelf
  23. Click here to add THE BIRD SISTERS by Rebecca Rasmussen to your Goodreads shelf
  24. Click here to add THE HEADMASTER’S WAGER by Vincent Lam to your Goodreads shelf
  25. Click here to add DEATH IN THE FLOATING CITY by Tasha Alexander to your Goodreads shelf
  26. Click here to add THE GIRL WHO FELL FROM THE SKY by Heidi Durrow to your Goodreads shelf
  27. Click here to add THE PAINTED GIRLS by Cathy Marie Buchanan to your Goodreads shelf


The Real Life Story that Inspired The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky Real StoryI 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.

The Inspiration for My Work-in-Progress Gets NY Times Shout out!

Miss Lala Heidi DurrowI 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!

CNN Dialogues Video on America's Multiracial Population

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.

Roots, Race and My Dad: My Newest Huffington Post Essay

I've done a lot of writing about my dad over the last 20 years since he died, but have kept much of it private.  I wrote this essay for a news organization but ultimately it didn't fit the series.  But I was happy with the balance in the piece, as well as the small measure of peace I found in writing it.  I hope you will take a read over at the Huffington Post: My Father's Silence, A Kind of Grace.

Roots, Race and My Dad: My Newest Huffington Post Essay

I've done a lot of writing about my dad over the last 20 years since he died, but have kept much of it private.  I wrote this essay for a news organization but ultimately it didn't fit the series.  But I was happy with the balance in the piece, as well as the small measure of peace I found in writing it.  I hope you will take a read over at the Huffington Post: My Father's Silence, A Kind of Grace.

I've Added More Appearances for 2013

Paul Simon and MeI've added a few speaking and appearance dates for 2013: Western Oregon University MLK Commemoration, Sterling Bank's Bella Voce Book Club Author Luncheon, California Lutheran University, and the Richard Ellman Lectures in Modern Literature. You can find the details on the appearances page of my website.  I'm looking forward to all of these talks and appearances, but the Richard Ellman Lectures opportunity is one I couldn't have imagined.  The Richard Ellman Lectures is the biennial event held at Emory University, to celebrate literature. This year the speaker is Paul Simon. Yes, that Paul Simon and as a committee member I will introduce him for his mini-concert on Feb. 12 at Emerson Concert Hall, Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. Needless to say, I'm over the moon! For more information visit the website.

2nd Annual: What Are You? Oct. 4, 2012 7PM

Join me for this great panel discussion: 2nd Annual: What Are You?  Let’s talk about race and ethnicity, and where we’re from (or where we’re from from); how we express our own multicultural identities, and how others perceive us. Panelists will start the conversation and we hope you’ll join in. We’ll discuss big questions like: How does our cultural background shape us? Can we see race? Is identity fixed or fluid? #CBBGwhatru Featuring: Jen Chau, founder of Swirl Erica Chito Childs, author of Fade to Black and White: Interracial Images in Popular Culture, Heidi Durrow, a host of Mixed Chicks Chat and author of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, Ken Tanabe, founder of Loving Day, Angela Tucker, director of Black Folk Don't. Co-sponsored by Swirl, a multi-ethnic, anti-racist organization that promotes cross-cultural dialogue. Brooklyn Brewery beer and light refreshments will be served. RSVP: http://cbbgwhatru.eventbrite.com/

The Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street at Clinton Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201

Upcoming Appearances

I have just a few upcoming appearances I wanted to let you know about: Sept. 30, 2012 I will be part of the West Hollywood Book Fair. Yay! I even have a couple of gigs in 2013 lined up too: Feb. 16 a benefit in Rancho Mirage, CA where I will be speaking; and the 4th largest book festival in the country, Tucson Festival of Books, March 9 and 10, 2013. Stay tuned for more details.

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