A Brand New Novel
Josephine Baker, the early-20th-century African-American dancer, comic, and singer–hugely famous in Paris. Did you know that she was also a spy for the French Resistance during WWII?
In the weeks since I’ve written, I’ve begun the finishing touches on the manuscript for my sequel to “The Jewel of Medina”; started the third book in my trilogy, about the fascinating intellectual-feminist great-granddaughter to the Prophet Muhammad; participated in several interviews with reporters from around the world; finalized plans for my upcoming media tour in Spain; and, last but not least, had a fantastic time with fans of “The Jewel of Medina” in The Book Stop, a cool little bookstore in Hood River, Ore.
Bookstore owners Cynthia and Charlie Christensen pulled out all the stops for my appearance Jan. 10, filling their entire front window with “The Jewel of Medina” and a photo of moi, and posting announcements of my reading outside and inside the store. Still, I prepared as anxiously as always: Would anyone come? As has happened so many times, I was pleasantly surprised.
People filled the room, sitting in the folding chairs provided and standing up, from the back of the store all the way to the front door. Cynthia introduced me with words of praise for “The Jewel of Medina” that made me blush. I gave a short talk about freedom of speech and self-censorship, then read Chapter 20, “Poison Wind.” Afterwards, we had a lively and extremely stimulating Q&A, always my favorite part of any appearance.
I signed books for nearly an hour, and then, as I was about to pose for a final photo with Cynthia, a Muslim woman called. She’d missed my reading, she said, but she wanted to meet me. We waited for her to arrive, and then I had a lovely discussion with her about her conversion to Islam and about “The Jewel of Medina.” She bought a book, I signed it, and then I returned to my hotel to rest my head cold by the fire.
Being a small-town girl, I just love these appearances in these little independent book shops in these little towns! I made several new friends that night, including — especially — Cynthia. I am already excited about going back.
Next stops: Eastern Washington University in Cheney, WA, where I’ll speak Jan. 31 at noon on “Burqas Beware: Muhammad was a Feminist,” and St. Marie’s, Idaho, where I’ll sign books from noon to 4 p.m. at The Paper House in St. Marie’s, Idaho, then participate in an evening book club discussion.