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Entries in homework (3)


You ask, I'll answer, no big deal

Hey, school is about to start in a week, which means it’s time for SUMMER READING. Which also means I get a lot of emails from students. So, to be your one-stop, summer reading answer shop, here are answers to recent questions. And if you have more, ask here and I’ll answer as soon as I can. Also, tell your teacher "hi" for me and that I said you deserve extra credit for not falling for this.

Brittney C – How do you like living in Montana? What city do you live in exactly? I’ve always heard it’s amazing up there! I live in Southern California. I’d love to vacation there sometime.

Hey B, I live in Great Falls, which is kind of like a 70s time warp, but I love it. Plus it’s close to the places I like to be when I’m not writing, like the Rocky Mountain Front and Glacier National Park. Here’s a photo of me not writing:

Jennifer S – I am in love with this book it is so captivating and the details of Henry running from the bullies and jumped into the radio flyer had me on the edge of my seat. I was wondering, where do you get your inspiration from and how did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Hi Jen, so glad you enjoyed the book! Henry and Keiko send their love. As far as inspiration, I guess I just geek out over historical things. I love little bits of history that most people tend to forget. Plus, everyone grows up with a certain amount of family drama. HOTEL touched upon my own father/son experiences, good and bad. As far as wanting to be a writer, I finally knew when I was surrounded by other writers and felt at home––I finally fit in!

Alicia R asks a gaggle of questions – My answers are below.

1. Are you parents living or deceased?  

They’re both gone. I killed them when they took my iPhone.

2. Do you have and siblings? If so, how many and what are there names?  

I do, their names are Michael, Lydia, Marsha, and Kirk. Oh, and also my Siamese twin, Andre who is typing this with his left hand while I help type with my right. 

3. Marital Status?  

Married on 8/8/08 at 8:08 PM. (Seriously).

4. Children?  

We have a house full of teenagers, many of them girls, so basically my house is an estrogen holding tank.

5. What are your interest or hobbies?

I like hiking, peakbagging, and climbing non-dangerous mountains. Also, I enjoy making up fictitious answers to serious questions.

6. What type of degree's do you have? When and where did you receive them?  

Oddly enough, my degree is in art and design from the Seattle Art Institute. I also attended community college when I was 14-15, but later quit. So basically, I dropped out of college before I graduated from high school.

7. Something interesting about you, your life, or your family? Maybe a short story or cool trip?

One word: Tanzania.

Renee L – I would like to know how do you feel about your novel being a huge part of the education system? I really hope to hear back from you.

I love that I’ve grown up and become someone’s homework! It’s really weird, strange, and flattering. I especially love seeing the tweets, good and bad.

Juan I – What gave you the idea to write about the struggles of growing up and was this novel written for young adults who had many struggles while growing up?

HOTEL wasn’t written specifically for young adults, but I’m glad so many students are reading it (or being force to read it!) And you could say that I relate to the struggles of youth—because in many ways I’m still growing up, still trying to figure out life and my place in it. Plus, those were the years of such crazy emotions. I had a crush on a set of twins. Life gets amazingly complicated. Those are wonderful times to write about.

Lanette H - How did you know you wanted to be a writer?

It didn't happen all at once. By that I mean, I was editor of the school magazine in high school, but I still didn't think of myself as writer, I just liked hanging out with writerly people. Years would pass before I realized I was one of them. Also, later, an author friend asked me this, "What do you like more, writing, or the idea of being a writer?" It was (and still is) a very profound question. It was then that I realized that I just like the creative process of writing. If I just liked the idea of writing, I could wear black, ride a Vespa, and hang out at Starbucks all day--I could have all the affectations without doing the work. But, I just like writing.

Guillermina V – What shoe size do you wear?

Size 12, so it's really hard to find a pumps that fit. There goes my drag queen career.

Joshua J – I was wondering what your address would be to write you a formal letter and your early education information and any other interesting information you would like to give would be greatly appreciated.

No need to write. Save the stamp. Just email me or ask here. I answer all my emails (sometimes it might take a while, but I do). Also, I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also on Tumblr and Google+ but I don’t keep up with those as often.

If you’re looking for me, I’m easy to find. Ask away!


Somehow I grew up and became somebody's homework

Well, it's official, I've become homework.

I knew this was happening as each summer I'd get bombarded with a bevy of emails from high school students around the country all saying something like: "Um...Mr. Ford? Your book, Motel on the Corner of Sweet and Sour? Um...well, it's my favorite book of ALL TIME. And if you could just answer these twelve questions, I'd really appreciate it."

Well now I've been told that a group of intrepid social studies teachers have made HOTEL required reading in Washington State (for 9th graders). And as I was on tour last week I wandered into a local B&N and lo and behold what do I see but my book and this sign--right next to Sylvia Plath! (I'm not worthy...)

And in related news, I found a bunch of amusing and heartfelt tweets from high school students who are reading HOTEL:

@MoriahCobb - Nobody read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. It will slowly tear out your heart, and your will cry your eyes out. #StupidEnglishClass

@catchmeifyaKEN - Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet is actually so depressing...i can't read this. #thisiswhyidontread

@youroldpalnick - WHO HAS A STUDY GUIDE SITE THAT HAS "Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet". Sparknotes didn't have it. This is an emergency! #PLZ

(That one kinda get's your "right there" doesn't it.)

@whats_GACCI - Anyone wanna give me a good summary of hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet!?... (willing to pay in cash)

@bananaalannah - I would rather read Animal Farm everyday of my whole life than fucking read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

@ex0hEmma - More like hotel on the corner of (this book sucks boulevard) bitter and sweet.

That last one is my personal favorite. I love it. Little do they know that I'm fueled creatively by the angst of teenagers. Happy reading, kids!


On the Corner of Homework and Help

Yeezus. I’ve been inundated with a gaggle of questions, biography requests, and random emails from students regarding research papers.

So…here’s my official biography:

I was born in 1969 as the first viable test-tube baby, originally named Adam H1. That seed embryo was later placed in the womb of one Grace Thidbedeaux, who was a college student at Alcorn State University. Ms. T (as they called her) had volunteered for the now-outlawed “Tuition for Test Tubes” scholarship program.

When Ms. T was in her third trimester (of freshman year) and her second trimester (of pregnancy) she met my adoptive father, Gareth Eng Forde, an exchange student from Holland of Cantonese ancestry. Together they left the constraints of Lorman, Mississippi, eloped and joined the Peace Corps, hence my nation of birth is Mali.

My family moved to India shortly after I was born, so my first language is Urdu (and a few lesser known dialects). I was kicked out of a missionary high school for vandalism shortly before graduation in Uttar Pradesh. (I treated a Pietà like a piñata).

The decades that followed are an opium haze of rejection (French Foreign Legion), acceptance (a Bolivian circus), and redemption (as a bush pilot who once landed atop the Baltoro Glacier, rescuing three injured climbers who were stranded at 8,611 m).

When I returned to the US I was overwhelmed by the excesses of Kapitalism and in protest, swore an oath of silence. I haven’t spoken a word in nine years. Hence my writing career began. Finally, my real voice could be heard through the pages of fiction.

Lakshmi bless!

Jamie Ford


P.S. Say “خوش” to your teacher for me.