I started working at Hawthorne Books in fall of 2009 and now, 17 books later, I’m proud say that I’ve worked on half of the books that Hawthorne has published since it was founded in 2001. I’ve also worked with the majority of Hawthorne’s authors, since Hawthorne makes a habit of building long-lasting author relationships and publishing numerous titles by many of its authors, such as Poe Ballantine, Lidia Yuknavitch, Scott Nadelson, and Tom Spanbauer.
That last fine-feathered author – Mr. Tom Spanbauer – had a standing-room only, packed-to-the-gills reading for his latest novel I Loved You More at Powell’s City of Books earlier this week on the book’s launch day and it was pure magic. You might think, after publicizing 17 books and attending so many author readings and book parties over the years, that I might be a little bit jaded with book events. I still love them. And Tom’s Powell’s reading was one of my all-time favorites, mostly due to his generosity of spirit. I don’t want to get a song stuck in your head but I do have to say – love was in the air. So sorry. I’m a jerk.
As Hawthorne senior editor Adam O’Connor Rodriguez and I walked into the Pearl Room for the reading Portland author, lovely Suzy Vitello Soulé, author of The Moment Before, and friends were handing out these buttons to anyone and everyone. If you’ve read I Loved You More you understand how sweet the gesture is and how important the word is throughout the novel. Love it.
Adam kindly gave up his seat and the one next to him so that a couple of women standing behind us could get comfortable. The house was packed and standing room only. As the women sat down, we made introductions and it turned out that Paula and Theresa were Tom’s elementary through high school friends from Pocatello, Idaho. They moved to Portland years ago and now run The Book Corner used bookstore in Beaverton next to the Beaverton Public Library. Tom thanked them both for coming to the reading in his introduction and let everyone know that he was lucky enough to go on his very first date, way back when, with Theresa, and that he would have asked Paula on a date as well if he thought she would have obliged. A good audience laugh. So sweet.
Hawthorne Books author Lidia Yuknavitch – author of The Chronology of Water and Dora: A Headcase—introduced Tom with heartfelt and tear-jerking words that spoke to his influence on the world of Pacific Northwest writing, particularly his impact on the Portland writing scene through his Dangerous Writing.
And then Mr. Spanbauer took to the podium and gave a few emotional words of gratitude before setting into his reading. He read from the very beginning of the book and then afterward answered a slew of wide and varied questions. One audience member asked if Tom is ever distracted during his 4-6 hour daily writing shifts and Tom replied that he’d grown up on a farm in Idaho where, day after day, he’d put his head down and bale hay for many-hour stretches. After making that steady, solid work-ethic connection to his writing Tom added, “I’m a little cray cray,” and everyone laughed again.
The line to get to Tom after the reading was long and winding. It was a very inspiring reading and Q&A and I bet even some of the nonwriters in the room were moved that night to go home and write.
Hawthorne Books loves you more!
Tom’s incredible heart-of-gold partner, Mr. Michael Sage Ricci, with his dapper crew.
Thanks to everyone again for coming out for the magical Tom Spanbauer night, and thank you forever and always, Powell’s Books.
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