September 11, 2014 @7:00 Vroman’s Bookstore • Pasadena, CA
The evening began with Vroman’s Events Coordinator Connie Kalter introduction of me and my debut novel BALLROOM to a standing-room-only crowd. She is one savvy woman! Connie knew all about my son Michael, hip hop music producer and Dustbrother. She spoke about my career as a designer and illustrator and about all the places I danced in New York—studios—ballrooms—clubs—the South Street Sea Port, and that romantic barge on the Hudson River!
Proudest moment? When she read my wonderful Kirkus review:
“Simpson brings to life the vibrant essence of the Ballroom, a once-grand dance club in late 1990s New York City, in her debut novel…. The Ballroom is a place of rampant hopes and dreams that seldom get fulfilled, in spite of the dancers’ efforts. The characters strive for what they want, but most have no real sense of how to get it. Simpson is a master at creating realistic characters who are flawed, a bit unappealing and yet sympathetic. Life goes on much in the manner in which it began. But this isn’t a bad thing—it feels real, even refreshing, not to have a neatly wrapped, feel-good ending—but rather a plain old life-goes-on.
Readers who enjoy seeing inside the hearts and minds of others will relish sharing the lives of Simpson’s creations.”
The evening began with an absolutely delightful and crowd-pleasing film clip of my father, the legendary eccentricdancer Hal Sherman, in One For the Book (1930s Vitaphone).
Many in the audience were unfamiliar with artist books and had lots of questions about these hand-painted one-of-a-kind books about dance, which were on display. I explained that mine are purchased primarily by rare book collectors and University Special Collections, such as the Victoria & Albert, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, UCLA and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. I had brought Dirty Dancing, Rumba, and The Marc Ballroom, a book which stands on small wooden dance shoes and contains the seeds for the characters in my novel.
THE MARC BALLROOM, an artist book by Alice Simpson
(If you look at the photo above you can see where Vroman’s added a Post-it to each book. I couldn’t remember anyone’s name!)
Not one cell phone rang during an hour and a half, which seems a minor miracle. I am grateful to my son, and grandson for their help in providing video, music, recording, and technical assistance, and to my grand daughter who was monitoring that I didn’t do any ‘Bobble Head’ speaking. A great crew and a terrific crowd!
“Your author’s event was brilliant. You are a natural up there and Harper of Harper Collins is insane not to get you on a nationwide tour. The clip of your dad was a great lead in; you’re a natural and engaging reader; the music accompanying your reading was wonderful; your Q&A was relaxed and fun. You seem like you could be shy and a bit nervous but when the show starts, you seem to navigate it all so naturally, easily, and with insight and humor. Right on, woman!” —wrote Kat Ward, Publisher, Hometown-Pasadena.com