Friends of the Libraries w/ Jason Mott Recap


I had a productive summer in which I barreled through writing a novel and then immediately burned myself out afterward. I was going through a lot when I got a message that the NC State Friends of the Library wanted me to moderate a conversation with Jason Mott about his career and his new book Hell of a Book. As I mentioned in my previous post, I'd been hoping to run into Jason either at a conference or a reading, so this arranged event seemed serendipitous. I prepared by reading the book and took notes. I also wrote questions as I read. The first three I came up with are below:

  • What was it like to grow up in a small, rural, predominantly black town near the beach?
  • You've published four books, what are the similarities and differences between the way the process has gone each time?
  • Can you talk about the amount of words in the first sentence? The repetition of the word dark?

I also asked Jason about specific details concerning his home town of Bolton, NC including the median income and the population (691).

I got there early and went on a tour of Hunt Library which one of the staff members of Friends of the Library offered up to Jason and I. I was able to give my own color commentary about times I'd written in different parts of the library during grad school–which parts were quietest and which parts were most comfortable. Then I talked to Jason about his career. Afterward people flooded in. The event was catered with a sort of gala setup. There were around 30 tables with 10-15 people seated at each one. I was introduced and took the stage. Jason took the stage soon afterward and we began to speak. I asked him most of the questions that had come to my mind as I'd read his novel. He was open about his process and about the industry in a way that has made me feel comfortable coming to him with questions as my career has developed. 

My girlfriend Elisha was in attendance as was my mom. I don't think I've ever had that many people paying attention to anything I was involved in at any singular point in my life. It was interesting because, in a certain way, I framed the questions I was asking as if it were just me and him talking. At points I forgot we were on a stage with an audience behind us. But they seemed to get something out of Jason's responses. After we spoke there was a Q and A and Jason signed books as a band played. I greeted some of the students from the MFA program that had matriculated after me. They seemed excited to see one of their own on stage with someone so accomplished. I'm glad I was able to be that person that day.