Yesterday, I participated in the Leimert Park Book Fair which took place in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. Rather than it being held outside as they did years previously, author booths were inside the mall- something that I appreciated due to the current discomforts of the summer heat. My daughter Summer was with me, operating as my assistant. Yes, I was nervous. Yes, as soon as we began setting up I started to regret being there. Once again, I was the only author in the building who writes Sci-Fi fantasy books and horror. And, with the main demographic being African American, self-doubt began to settle in. I had to remember that the key to these events is to come with no expectations. I also had to remind myself that I am a talented writer and I deserve to be there. Black people read sci-fi too, and if I must I will convince those who don't to at least give my books a try.
Before the event officially started, my daughter guarded our table while I made the rounds with introducing myself to other authors present. Once author in particular is an urban fiction writer whose pen name is Black Rose. In another blog, I will post a link to her book because the cover art is amazing! At this moment, I cannot recall the title of her book, but her story takes place in the early 90s and follows the journey of a young woman, the hustle and drugs. We conversed for quite some time before it was time to get back to our tables as more people started coming in. From self help, to history, historical romance and realistic fiction, it was nice to be in the presence of other authors of color.
I was on my feet standing from the time we arrive (8 am) until 5:00 pm with a few scattered moments of rest. As stated earlier, I reminded myself to not have any expectations. And as a result, I sold out. The last thing I expected was to be greeted by as many readers and potential readers as I did. The Lost Queen was a fan favorite, followed by The Vampire Hunters Academy and Into the Shadows. My cousins Melissa and Sean even came through to demonstrate support of my work which happened to be a pleasant surprise. This was an experience. That is how I can essentially sum it up. From the group of kids who entered the building playing a variety of African instruments as part of the theme "We Do It for the Culture" and Laila Ali (I shook her hand by the way) making an appearance, I came home yesterday smiling from ear to ear.
The best part of my day was speaking to everyone who approached my table. There were those who walked away with a post card or a business card, and there were those who walked away with a book or two (or a few), but there were also those who simply needed a word or some advice - all of which was gladly given. Yesterday was a reminder that those moments of engagement with just the people, whether they are readers, writers or both are important. My goal is to leave behind a legacy through my books, but I see that the building blocks of that legacy is also linked to the face to face encounters, those personal moments experienced with the individuals I met.