Friday, October 14, 2011

Love My Indie with author Kelly Milner Halls

Love My Indie is a feature where fellow bloggers, readers, and authors tell me about their favorite independent bookstores. I love the feeling I get when I go into an independent bookstore - like it is filled with hidden treasures just waiting for me to find them. Maybe one day I will have the chance to visit these amazing bookstores.

Showing some Indie Love today is:
Kelly Milner Halls, children's author and
editor of Girl Meets Boy

Twelve years ago, I moved to Washington State from Colorado.  In terms of independent bookstores, I left the grand presence of the legendary Tattered Cover for regions unknown.  Finding Auntie's Bookstore made me certain I would soon call Spokane "home."

Chris Crutcher
I've had many of my own in-store events at Auntie's since 1999, but I fell in love with the store watching other authors take the podium.  My friend -- and the only person I knew in Spokane when I arrived -- Chris Crutcher took to the stage and taught me how to reach the general public with humor, humility and articulate grace.  "Let them know who you are," he once told me.  "Let them know why you write what you write."  Hundreds of people turned out to hear Crutcher share a part of himself, and many became my friends. 
Crutcher cut-out

Terry Trueman was one of them.  When Auntie's celebrated the release of his new book, Crutcher was supposed to introduce him, but a flight delay made it impossible.  With only minutes to spare, he emailed me a written statement and I made a Chris Crutcher mask.  With both their blessings, I stood in for Crutcher and read his humorous introduction with the mask covering my face.  It was a funny statement, but the cardboard face and his absence made it even funnier.  It is an Auntie's memory I will always cherish. 

Kelly Milner Halls
I organized a panel on how to write for young readers at Auntie's next.  The plan was to have me, Terry Trueman, Claire Rudolf Murphy, and Chris Crutcher on the stage together to talk about our work and share tips on how to break into the business, then welcome questions.  The turnout was exceptional, but once again, Crutcher was missing.  Another delayed flight.  Trueman couldn't resist himself, he's such a natural entertainer.  As I told the audience Crutcher was trapped in Denver, Trueman stood in mock anger and tossed Crutcher's chair from the four seat line up.  "Does that guy really exist?"  he questioned.  The audience howled and Crutcher was certainly there in spirit.

Fate did allow Crutcher to be at Auntie's a couple of years later to introduce Michael Harmon and his debut novel, SKATE.  Crutcher had mentored Harmon and shared the story of that relationship, start to finish.  I was lucky enough to write about Harmon in the local paper, the Spokesman Review, in advance of their presentation.  Hundreds of people turned out, and a new career was launched -- a career that has proved rich with meaning and fruitful.

Crutcher and Harmon

I limped to the podium to promote MYSTERIES OF THE MUMMY KIDS when I'd torn the ligaments in my right knee just hours earlier.  I barely remember that presentation at Auntie's, but they tell me I did fine, apart from scaring two preschoolers who weren't quite ready for a talk about dead kids throughout history. 

I shared dinosaur fossils with a robust group of curious kids in the Auntie's children's book section to promote DINOSAUR MUMMIES.  I made tiny albino mice bookmarks to promote ALBINO ANIMALS.  I share Sasquatch foot casts when TALES OF THE CRYPTIDS and IN SEARCH OF SASQUATCH were released.  I'll share alien evidence once ALIEN INVESTIGATION hits their shelves.  I've had my share of events on my own, thanks to the generosity of Auntie's.  But the memories of groups of people -- the sense of community -- is what makes Auntie's the best independent bookstore ever.  

I'll always be grateful for the store and the magical people who keep it up and running.  What magic will prevail when Terry Trueman, Terry Davis, Chris Crutcher and I gather to talk about my anthology for Chronicle Books, GIRL MEETS BOY, in the spring of 2012?  Each of us contributed a story to the collection, so sparks are sure to fly.  And who knows, Crutcher may actually find a way to show up.  Just in case, I think I'll invest on a life-size, cardboard Chris Crutcher stand up.  It just might come in handy.  : )   

Kelly is the author of nonfiction children's books, and hundreds of magazine articles and reviews. Her newest book In Search of Sasquatch was released this month and her upcoming anthology Girl Meets Boy will be released in early 2012. 

To learn more about Kelly, visit

1 comment:

  1. I too am from Washington State. When my book released Aunties Bookstore invited me to a signing there. It was fantastic and I was thankful to them for inviting me.

    Another of my favorite Indie's is A Book For All Seasons in Leavenworth WA. Pat (owner) and the people who work there are so wonderful. It is just a few short miles from my home and I love to go there to immerse myself into the world of fiction.


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