01 Nov 2013

A Reader’s Paradise – Part II

01 Nov 2013


By Lori Hope Baumel

Originally appeared in Around Wellington Magazine on November 1, 2013

Video preview of the Miami Book Fair International 2013:

See the MBFI video! Go to: http://youtu.be/d05tLUW3m3M 

Video photos courtesy of MBFI 2013


Readers from all over the world with authors from all over the world will meet, talk and share ideas.

As I mentioned in A Reader’s Paradise – Part I, earlier this week, hop in the car and head south to the Miami Book Fair International (MBFI). The MBFI is the oldest and largest gathering of authors coming from all over the world with an attendance of 250,000 people of all ages over a period of 8 days.


It’s important to reserve your tickets now! The prices are reasonable and many of the ticketed events are free. There are programs, concerts and activities for the entire family. For more information about the weeklong event go to:


To review A Reader’s Paradise – Part I

Go to: http://aroundwellington.net/?p=23465

A Conversation With

Poet Julie Marie Wade

AW PT II_02_Wade_julie_tcm7-80415

Julie Wade  – Photo courtesy MBFI

“I always try to think about the person who, out of love or friendship, has come to a poetry reading for someone else… My hope is that we can, as poets, excite that person to form a new relationship with poetry.” – Julie Marie Wade

“Born in Seattle in 1979, Julie Marie Wade completed a Master of Arts in English at Western Washington University in 2003, a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry at the University of Pittsburgh in 2006, and a Ph.D. in Humanities with creative dissertation at the University of Louisville in 2012. She is the author of the poetry chapbook Without (Finishing Line Press, 2010) and two collections of lyric nonfiction, Wishbone: A Memoir in Fractures (Colgate University Press, 2010) and Small Fires (Sarabande Books, 2011). Julie lives with her partner and their two cats in the Sunshine State, where she teaches creative writing at Florida International University.” – The Marie Alexander Poetry Series Website

Julie Wade will be reading from her latest book, Postage Due, along with poets James Allen Hall, Orlando Ricardo Menes and Jen Karetnick on Saturday, November 23 at 3:00 PM at the Miami Book Fair International 2013. For more information see:


Recently, I was fortunate to interview Ms. Wade about the upcoming event. The following is most of our enlightening conversation.

LHB: Your new book, Postage Due, is sincere, heartfelt and innovative. How did the use of the “postcard” concept come to you?

JMW: I’ve always been interested in epistolary literature in general. In graduate school I read A Postcard Memoir by Lawrence Sutin, and in that book he uses random postcards as occasions for musings. I’m sure that collection put certain ideas into my head about how I might use postcards in a more compressed way in my poetry. Typically [on] a postcard, you don’t have a lot of space to write very much… If you were literally sending out postcards, not just using the concept, you are forced to either write very small or compress what you want to say… boil your message down to its essence.

Because I am a long-winded person, I realized this approach would be a really good challenge for me. I’m always looking for some kind of formal challenge. As writers, we tend to circle around a lot of the same themes in our work… The only way I have to know that I’m keeping my work fresh is to try new things formally. The postcard for me was the ultimate challenge… For the literal poems in the book that are postcard sized, I knew I had to force myself to say something very brief and very precise to significant people from my past.

I also reasoned, if I wasn’t fortunate enough to find my way into an academic job, that the next best thing might be becoming a postal carrier… I just thought it would be interesting to work with the mail since I’m fascinated by correspondence. I’m curious about the kind of things that we send to each other and also the kinds of things that we don’t send – maybe the letters that we wished we could send?

And I love all the different stamps that they have at the post office. I always look at the different things that you can stamp on a letter, and “postage due,” to me, is the most fascinating one. How vexing to have something come back postage due! If you’ve mailed it out and hoped that it would make it, but also, if it makes it to someone else, that person will have to pay in order to get at the content. I imagine a lot of letters and parcels slip through the cracks that way in the postal system? This book is interested in those things… with those letters that don’t make it there.

LHB: What attracted you to participate in the Miami Book Fair International?

JMW: I’ve been aware of the Miami Book Fair for years and after I moved to South Florida last year, it was an honor to be asked to participate. What is a special honor for me is that James Allen Hall, one of the other poets on the panel, is a long-time friend of mine. We have overlapped in our careers many ways…  We just found out a couple weeks ago that we’d be reading together for the very first time. So that is thrilling news for me because I’m such a big fan of his work and also of James as a person. Orlando and Jen are two writers whose work I don’t know yet. There’s something lovely about this panel because it’s both a reunion for James and me, [and it’s] also a chance to have the best seat in the house for readings from two new poets.

LHB: What would our readers learn if they attended your panel discussion? What question do you want those who attend the discussion to be asking themselves?

JMW: I think that it’s fantastic to get a book of poems and to savor it on your own…

There’s something fabulous about the private communion you can have with a book of poems. But I also love a poetry reading… My friend James [Allen Hall] is a very dynamic reader, and I would hope and assume that other readers on our panel will be, too. I try to be a reader who would make poetry something that would catalyze you, that would be exciting even if you’re not a person who tends to pick up a book of poems and read it to yourself…

To me, there’s nothing better than hearing any literature read aloud well. It’s captivating. But I always think, for poetry in particular, that it’s meant to be read aloud. I hope that we, as a panel, can deliver that experience – not just for people who are already initiated… I always try to think about the person who, out of love or friendship, has come to a poetry reading for someone else… My hope is that we can, as poets, excite that person to form a new relationship with poetry.

LHB: Is there anything else in particular that you, Julie Wade, the writer or the person, would like our readers to know about you before the Miami Book fair? When they’re thinking, “Hmm… what panel discussions am I going to sit in on?”

JMW: Wow, that’s a hard question!

LHB: It’s insightful. (I then repeated the question slowly).

JMW: A fantastic question… I DO have an answer for this! A huge amount of serendipity has brought me from Seattle, where I was born and raised,to South Florida, which is about as far away within the continental U.S. that you can get.

This sounds like an apocryphal story, but it really is true. When I started my PhD program in 2008 at the University of Louisville, my partner’s sister and brother-in-law asked me, “What’s your dream job? Where would you most like to teach when you get done with your PhD?” The big elephant in the room of course is that if you’re looking for an academic job, everyone [around you] is getting a little nervous, too, knowing there are so few of them.

My first choice school was Florida International University. I thought that there was something really magical about a place where all the faculty stayed… It is a hugely talented faculty in the creative writing program at FIU,… and I reasoned there must have been something special worth staying for when surely other schools would have wanted to hire these faculty members as well.

I dreamed of coming here, and I ended up being hired onto the creative writing faculty at FIU in 2012. I try to remember what a gift it is to have my dream job, even when I get busy and stressed! I am, in fact, working at my dream school.

LHB: Lucky you!

JMW: Lucky me, truly.


A Conversation (between planes) with Brad Meltzer!

AW PT II _03 Brad Meltzer


Photo Credit: www.facebook.com/BradMeltzer

 Brad Meltzer in the green room about to go on at CBS This Morning.

I believe that ordinary people change the world. I hope that my work speaks for that and I speak for that and I hope I stand for that.”

                                                                                                      – Brad Meltzer

“What’s really going on at Area 51?  Did John Wilkes Booth get away?  Based on his popular History Channel show, Brad Meltzer’s Decoded, Meltzer presents History Decoded:  The Ten Greatest Conspiracies of All Time (Workman Publishing). Each chapter is illustrated and includes an envelope containing removable facsimile documents.  Meltzer is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Inner Circle, as well as the bestselling novels The Fifth Assassin, The Tenth Justice, Dead Even, The First Counsel, The Millionaires, The Zero Game, The Book of Fate and The Book of Lies. His first non-fiction books, Heroes for My Son and Heroes for my Daughter, were also bestsellers.”  – MBFI website

Mr. Meltzer will be presenting History Decoded:  The Ten Greatest Conspiracies of All Time at the MBFI on Saturday, November 23, 2013 at 10 AM on a panel that includes Dave Barry and Roy Blount, Jr. For more information go to:


You can hear it in his voice – the enthusiasm that most of us wish for. A man so busy, that the only way to have a conversation (in time for our deadline) was to catch Brad Meltzer between planes after a speaking engagement with two thousand teachers in attendance. I initiated the dialogue by informing him that we both were born in Brooklyn, NY and graduated from the same high school, North Miami Beach Senior High (only about a decade apart). After reminiscing about terrific teachers we both were fortunate to have, I attempted to conduct an interview between the beeps and announcements often associated with airport ambiance. Brad was an excellent sport and seasoned trooper. The following are some snippets of that conversation.

LHB: What brings you to the MBFI and what do you have in common with your fellow panelists Dave Barry and Roy Blount, Jr.?

BM: Well, I think that we all think that Miami is the craziest place on earth and one of the very best places on earth! I don’t know Roy, but I know Dave well and, I can tell you, I grew up reading Dave Barry. He was one of my early influences as a writer. In fact, the very first piece I ever wrote that got published was in response to a Dave Barry contest that was in Tropic Magazine years ago. He’s always been one of my writing heroes. I tried to get him to speak at my graduation at North Miami BeachSenior High School!

I think what the fun will be with us together is: it’s not just a perspective from authors and it’s not just someone trying to talk about their book, but it’s someone who has a very intimate knowledge, all of us, of Miami and the beautiful chaos that it is.

LHB: What would my readers learn if they attended your panel discussion?

BM: I think that they’ll learn about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the truth about UFO’s and they will absolutely hear my theory on who really killed John F. Kennedy.

LHB: What questions would you want your audience to be asking themselves after attending your panel’s presentation?

BM: The question I would want them to ask is, “How did I get to have so much fun for free!” How did they get to enjoy a day of books and have a big smile on their face – and they didn’t have to pay a thing!

LHB: That’s great!

BM: It’s more important to learn something about history and themselves. Because every time you learn about history you always learn about yourself.

LHB: Whose idea was it to include the envelopes filled with historical facsimiles in the book? The concept is brilliant.

BM: Thank you. Full credit goes to Peter Workman – who passed away this past year. We were talking to different publishers – we went to lots of different publishers… and we went to Peter and to Bob Miller, who was the original editor on the book and they said, “What do you think of doing something completely different with this book and giving people pullouts from the book?” … and I said that’s exactly what I’d love to do. I loved that idea immediately. I had gone into the treasure vault at the National Archives where they keep the most important documents and they gave me an old oath of allegiance that the revolutionary war soldiers had signed. Our troops today still take that oath of allegiance.

What they showed me there was the oath of allegiance by a man named Benedict Arnold… and Benedict Arnold, for all of us, has become a curse word. It’s almost something bad that you call someone. When I saw that document in front of me and I saw that pen on that paper I could imagine a man with a pen writing on this sheet of paper and Benedict Arnold suddenly became a real person to me. History in that moment came alive. That’s what I wanted for the book. The goal of the book is to bring history alive and let people look at those documents themselves.

When you see the document about Lee Harvey Oswald and what the state department knew about him… when you hold that in your hand and you look at the date [1959]. All those years… you feel like – oh my gosh – you’re uncovering this incredible piece of history. I love that we get to do that for the readers who take the time to play with this book. Now, people said it’s like a pop-up book for adults and I’ll take that as the best compliment.

LHB: Does being involved with The History Channel make it easier to get into the National Archives to see these types of things or does every American have this kind of access?

BM: First of all, anyone can go to the National Archives and see the Declaration of Independence. I highly recommend it. You can also see other incredible documents. Will they take you through a private tour of the treasure vault? For me, it had nothing to do with the History Channel. I went because I was researching my novels. How did I get in there (?)  – Because of thrillers that I write. People know that I do research on my thrillers… everywhere from the secret tunnels below the Capitol to the ones beneath The White House. As a result, they were kind enough to let me inside.

LHB: Is there anything else that you, Brad Meltzer, the writer or person would like our readers to know about you?

BM: Everyone is getting on board. Sorry, they’re about to take off…  Listen; if I want to tell anyone anything… It’s not about book sales; it’s not about something I want to sell. What I want people to know about me, and about themselves, is the power of ordinary people. I believe that ordinary people change the world. I hope that my work speaks for that and I speak for that and I hope I stand for that.

It’s why our new children’s books that are coming out in January, I am Amelia Earhart and I am Abraham Lincoln are exactly on that subject.

Mr. Meltzer then stepped onto the plane.


To hear an incredibly detailed podcast about Brad Meltzer’s History Decoded: The Ten Greatest Conspiracies of All Time listen to NPR’s Topical Currents recorded on November 24, 2013.

Listen to the interview at: http://wlrn.org/post/10-greatest-conspiracies

To See Brad Meltzer’s recent appearance on CBS THIS MORNING go to:


For EVERYTHING Brad Meltzer go to:


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