Friday, October 22, 2010

In the Wright Place

Walt Disney, Charles Schulz, Lucille Ball, P.T. Barnum, and the Wright Brothers. When I was a child, those were the people I was most fascinated by. I read everything I could about them and based as many school reports as possible around them.

This week, I had the chance to spend a few days in Dayton, Ohio, the home of the Wright Brothers. I love it when speaking gigs match up with places like this!

But when I first flew into town, I grabbed a rental car and drove down to Cincinnati. There, I stopped by a Joseph-Beth Booksellers and signed a whole bunch of my books, which they'll be distributing to several of their stores. So if you're near a J.B.B. and want an autographed copy of Thirteen Reasons Why, you may find one there very soon. I also grabbed a coffee with local illustrator Tara Calahan King.

How awesome was Ms. King? She gave me a signed copy of Odd Velvet to give to Isaiah when he's born!

The next day, I woke up early and went straight to one of the bicycle shops (now a museum, of course) once owned by Wilbur and Orville Wright. It was in these shops that the W. Bros. built and tested many of the parts that made it onto their gliders and flyers.

With time running out before that evening's speaking gigs, I drove to the Huffman Prairie Flying Field where the majority of the first powered flights took place. There, you can see replicas of the garage/hangar where they stored and repaired the flyers, and the metal pyramid contraption which gave the flyer enough speed for takeoff.

I'm not sure why the brothers didn't make the hangar a tad wider so they didn't have to disassemble their flyer each night, and I don't think they had this access ramp back in the day.

When the concrete weight dropped inside the pyramid, it zipped the flyer down the slender "runway".


Large white flags create a loop around the field so you can walk the same path as the first successful round-trip flight.

Before my speeches, I had the opportunity to hang out with Kristina McBride, author of one of my favorite recent YA novels, The Tension of Opposites. I was asked to blurb this book a long time ago but didn't get a chance to read it before it came out. I finally picked it up several months ago and could not put it down (always a good sign), so future editions of the book will include my blurb.

Here's the wonderful trailer for The Tension of Opposites:

The story takes place in Centerville, Ohio, and many of the images in that trailer were shot in the actual locations mentioned in the book. It felt surreal to walk through some of the locations with Ms. McBride as my guide.

My first presentation at the Washington-Centerville Public Library was just for students in 6th through 12th grade. Later in the evening, I gave a presentation open to anyone, where I spoke about my book as well as the issues of bullying and suicide.

Here's a nice photo of students from the first presentation. Lovely bunch, I must say!

Between the presentations, I was taken to a delicious dinner with three of the librarians responsible for getting me to Ohio and Ms. McBride. Have you ever noticed how locals are often the last people to check out their town's history? Well, in my limited time, I've already seen more of the historical sites around Dayton than any of these ladies!

(And now I'm going to check and see what's considered historical where I live so that if you come visit me, I can say, "
That? Of course I've seen that!")

Shelly, Sara (future YA author), my floating head,
one very awesome poster, Kristina, Elaine

Early the next morning, it was time to begin the journey home.

I'm not going to blame food poisoning on the Wright Brothers, but I wonder if they ever thought barf bags would be a fixture on future airplanes. Why do I bring that up? It doesn't matter! And I wonder if they ever used the exact phrase "Flight Canceled" when one of their flyers was broken. Why do I bring that up? Just because!

Thankfully, there's still the good ol' fashioned train around when you need it. And while the view looking miles down can be inspiring, so can the view looking straight across.

But what was the view I liked the best?

The one of JoanMarie waiting for me to finally get back home.


StaffPicks said...

Another great post, Jay. You should be a writer. Or something!

Jay Asher said...

I've been thinking the exact same thing, Paul!

Sandy said...

Aww ^_^ it sounded like a great time!

Megan Bostic said...

Very cool. The Tension of Opposites is on my to read list. So many books...

Shain Brown said...

That looked like so much fun.

Anonymous said...

Is Thirteen Reasons Why going to be a movie anytime soon!?!? I'm not much of a reader, but I could NOT put this book down :)