The End of an Author Visit…

Author Dolen Perkins-Valdez caught in an action shot while signing books for students at Anacostia High School.

WinS is having a banner week here in DC as local authors are lined up for 17 individual school visits throughout the District. While you may have noticed a bit of silence here on the WinS blog as a result, something occurred to me this week on a visit to Howard University Middle School, and I wanted to share it.

During my first few months here at PEN/Faulkner and during the expansion of the Baltimore WinS program, I’ve noticed that our visits often begin with a few questions for the author, build to a sort of crescendo where multiple students have questions for the writer, and they frequently culminate in some wonderful one-on-one interactions in which students get to speak directly to the author and during which our authors graciously sign copies of their book. 

I’m almost always a bit taken aback (and thrilled) by how energetic those last few moments of a visit are. On Tuesday, as author Valerie Patterson and I were preparing to wrap up our visit at Howard University Middle School, we had already left the auditorium and were preparing to leave when a few stragglers asked to take a picture or two with the author and asked that she sign just a few more copies of her book. 

Valerie Patterson with students from Howard University Middle School

Valerie O. Patterson, author of The Other Side of Blue and Operation Oleander, signing books for students at Howard University Middle School following a terrific WinS visit earlier this week.

It’s hard to explain if you’ve never been on one of our author visits, but let me try to do so without sounding too mushy about  it. I’ve said it many times before, and I’m sure I’ll say it many times in the future, but it’s true: it’s very hard to be cynical about the state of literature and the future of readership when you see a hungry and excited group of students reach out to the author who they’d only known at a distance before the day of our visit. 

Many thanks to the instructors, the students, and to our WinS participating authors for the truly inspiring (and busy!) week. 

 — Nate Brown