It’s official. I will humbly have my first author event and book signing at a St. Louis area library. The date is Saturday, February 4th, 2023, at 1:00 p.m. at the Oak Bend branch of St. Louis County Library. And although I have had the opportunity to talk about my book in other settings and venues, this will be the first time I will implement the music aspect of the book.
It was November 2019 when the idea first came to me. I was in my kitchen either cooking something or loading/unloading the dishwasher, and amid the quiet time, I believe God dropped the thought in my spirit. I could picture myself coming out on stage at a high school or middle school to speak about my novel My Invisible Father, and as I walk out, a troupe of dancers follows me dancing a choreographed number to a song. It would be like a concert intertwined with an author’s presentation.
I immediately thought about the logistics of having a dance troupe following me around, how expensive that would be, and how much planning and scheduling it would demand. Seeing that I know nothing about the dance world, I would need to hire a choreographer, have a venue for an audition and subsequent rehearsals, hire the dancers, pay for wardrobes, possibly pay for transportation, and a host of other things that I was sure I was unaware.
That’s a lot of different components it would take to pull off something like that. And I was just getting started with my writing career; I would need more resources to make that happen.
So my mind quickly shifted to having a choreographed dance videotaped. That would be more realistic, considering I wouldn’t need to get ten, fifteen, or twenty people at every event. But I still would need to execute the groundwork of auditions, rehearsals, recording, and editing a video. And I would still need to pay a choreographer and the dancers. Then I realized I could do something I’ve always wanted to do. I started writing and performing music nearly thirty years ago and have always wanted to shoot a professional music video. Instead of just having dancers on video, I could have a video that told a story.
From there, the idea of having original songs that also told the novel’s story ignited in me. Produce and write songs that depict the lives of the characters from the book and scenes from the novel. A soundtrack for the book. This auditory and visual depiction of the book would enhance the reader’s experience. As a teacher, I truly understand the importance of using different methods to teach children. Some are auditory learners, some are visual learners, and some are kinesthetic learners. Adding the audio and video components to the physical book would give most readers something that would help them understand the book better or enjoy it more.
Because of my experience working in a juvenile facility for three years and now teaching middle school for almost sixteen years, I have seen many struggling and reluctant readers. One of my goals as a writer is to produce material for those readers, so they feel connected to the stories and overcome their obstacles by shedding the label of reluctant readers and becoming rising readers. Music is one aspect many people connect with their community and culture, so adding music with reading can have its place in helping that connection collide and hopefully get teens and young adults excited about reading my book. I don’t look at it as a gimmick but as a hook. Another strategy to go along with countless others to help aid readers to become successful, literate students and citizens.
I will share this vision with those who attend the event next month. And although I’m still preparing as I write this, I am excited about this opportunity and look forward to other opportunities I may have to share what is an essential work for this generation of readers.