I had the pleasure of going to hear Kathryn Stockett speak about The Help (New York Times bestseller) recently in Dallas. She is on a 24-city tour due to her book being released in paperback. The picture below is from her appearance in Houston the night before she spoke in Dallas:
–Kathryn Stockett in Houston (from houston.culturemap.com)
What an immensely enjoyable evening my friend and fellow blogger Stephanie and I had! You can find Stephanie’s excellent report HERE. Stephanie and I go to many literary events together and I believe this event was our favorite one of the past two years. Ms. Stockett started her talk in a very soft-spoken manner, and then her voice became stronger and louder as the evening progressed. I think she was overwhelmed by the overflow crowd at the beginning of her talk at the downtown First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, which was an alternative location from the Dallas Museum of Art’s Horchow Auditorium. Too many readers wanted to see and hear Ms. Stockett expound on her first novel and I definitely believe there were more than 1,500 people in the audience.
From the talk Ms. Stockett told of how she was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, and her primary caretaker was the family maid/nanny, Demetria. Living in New York City after college and working in the publishing industry, Ms. Stockett started writing about Demetria in order to assuage some of her homesickness. These writings were the basis of the novel. Ms. Stockett began the talk by declaring, “What a week it has been so far! Osama bin Laden is dead.” She was in New York and was trapped in her neighborhood for a while after the September 2001 bombings.
After telling the audience about her good friend and director of the movie version of her book, Tate Taylor, Ms. Stockett then read part of a chapter from the point of view of the character Minny. Minny is the feisty maid that works for the strange Celia Foote. I simply love when an author reads their own work. Of course, Ms. Stockett told of how her good friend, Octavia Spencer, was the one casting requirement that she absolutely insisted on for the movie and also told of how Ms. Spencer accompanied her on her first book tour and made the readings and tour so much easier and fun.
The rest of the allotted time for the event was spent taking questions from the audience. It is always so interesting to hear what questions people will ask and, of course, many readers just want to tell Ms. Stockett how proud they are of her tackling the subject she chose and how adorable she is. From the event I gathered that I need to listen to the audio version of the book, as it is read by Ms. Spencer. Harder to convey to you is just how delightful it was listening to Ms. Stockett and why she is so “adorable.” This is one funny, feisty, proud Southern woman! She recommends authors such as Katherine Anne Porter, Eudora Welty, Kaye Gibbons, etc., as she learned much from reading and rereading them. She also encourages any aspiring writer to set aside some part of each day for some type of writing just to get the hand moving and words flowing. After so much rejection before she found an agent to take her on, she has a never-give-up attitude. If you have a chance, go see Kathryn Stockett speak, but more importantly, read The Help if you have not done so!
My previous review of The Help can be found HERE.