Monthly Archives: March 2014

Book Signing at the Jackson Assembly Antiques and Art Show 2

Here are some pictures from my book signing today in Jackson, La.

This is Dan, the Jackson policeman, directing traffic for the Antiques Show:

Cop

Here’s the hall where the show was held:

Jackson Assembly

And what do you know! It’s my first grade school teacher, Ms. Shirley Legget:

Shirley Legget

Ms. Legget and I haven’t seen each other since I was in the first grade. The weird thing is that neither of us has changed in forty years.

And look who else! The barber who used to cut my hair when I was a boy:

Barber

He hasn’t changed, either.

The old Jackson bank:

Bank

What’s left of Centenary College. The guide told me it was the largest college in the South before the Civil War. I know, I didn’t believe it, either.

Centenary

Bobbie’s Drive-In. They were working on the ice cream machine when I was there. Yes, that’s right: the very same ice cream machine as when I was a boy.

Bobbie's

Au revoir, Jackson!

Jackson

Book Signing at the Jackson Assembly Antiques and Art Show

I’m looking forward to revisiting Jackson, LA, my boyhood home, for a book signing this Saturday at the annual Jackson Assembly Antiques and Art Show.

Jackson is a town of about 4,000 in East Feliciana Parish. It takes its name from General Andrew Jackson, who’s said to have stopped there at Thompson’s Creek on his way home after his victory over the British at the 1815 Battle of New Orleans.

Here, oddly, is the photo that Google spits up when you type in Jackson, Louisiana. I’d have to say it seems about right, though.

Jackson

Jackson is also known as being the home of East Louisiana State Hospital, a large, plantation-style mental hospital that opened in 1848 as the State Insane Asylum. It continues to operate there today, although on a much smaller scale.

elahospital

Jambalaya Writers’ Conference

After the Tennessee Williams Festival on Friday, I’ll be paddling down to Houma on Saturday for the Jambalaya Writers’ Conference. Keynote speaker will be Adriana Trigiani.

Food! Writers! Gators!

4_61_320x240_alligator_MRSA_cure

Times-Picayune with Local Authors at Home

If you ever wondered what I look like in my pajamas . . .

Pajamas

This week the New Orleans Times-Picayune is featuring four local authors who are in the Tennessee Williams Festival. Here’s my bit on working at home:

Author George Bishop Jr., A Speaker at This Week’s Tennessee Williams Fest, on the ‘Voodoo’ Involved in the Writing Process

Special to NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
March 18, 2014

This week, four New Orleans-based authors — all speakers at the 2014 Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival — will contribute essays on writing at home, examining how the trappings of their work spaces and the views from their windows help bring forth the words. On Monday, Zachary Lazar shared his thoughts. Today: George Bishop Jr. Coming up this week: Thomas Beller and Rebecca Snedeker.

*****

Any honest writer will tell you that what we do is incredibly boring. Sitting for hours hunched over a laptop, not talking to anyone, hardly moving anything but your fingers while you diddle with words: it’s not what a normal person would call fun. It’s also a lonely job, and difficult, and awfully daunting. What if you sit down to write and nothing comes? Or what if you do manage to write something but no one likes it? Or what if, believing your worst critics, you begin to think that maybe you’re wasting your time, that you really are just a talentless hack?

To face down all the tedium and uncertainty of writing, we authors do what we can to make the work as painless as possible. For me, this means good air, good light, a comfortable chair. I write in my pajamas, in the morning, with lots of coffee. The building where I live was built in 1900 as a residence for retired priests, which strikes me as especially appropriate for what I do. It’s quiet here, with lots of wood and windows. I live on the second floor, and if I look up from my computer, I can see the tops of trees. I put on classical music while I work, and then — this is odd, I know — I’ll put in earplugs, too.

I like to surround myself with reminders of my travels: Turkish rugs, Indian prayer shawls, a Japanese tea chest, prints from Shanghai, pillows from Azerbaijan, carvings from Bali. My desk is an antique dining room table that came from England by way of a used furniture store in Hollywood. My favorite pen is an old German Pelikan I found in a bazaar in Istanbul. And I have my books, too, of course, all the ones I’ve read and the ones I’m going to. I think of them as my guides and protectors, good friends keeping me company while I write.

It’s all voodoo, I know. These furnishings are really just charms to ward off despair and invite inspiration. But when it works — and it does often enough — I’m rewarded with the best prize possible: that beautiful escape we all yearn for as writers and readers.

*****

George Bishop Jr., a Louisiana native, is the author of “Letter to My Daughter” (Ballantine Books, 2010) and “The Night of the Comet (Ballantine Books, 2013). In a past life, he starred as Murphy Gilcrease, the teenage vampire, in the 1988 New World Pictures release “Teen Vamp.”

At the festival, Bishop will moderate a panel discussion titled “Not Even Past: Southern History in Contemporary Fiction” Friday, March 21 at 4 p.m. in the Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom.

Tennessee Williams Festival 2014

I’m looking forward to moderating a panel next Friday at the Tennessee Williams Festival here in New Orleans. I’ll be talking with a wonderful and eclectic group of authors:
Bill Cheng, Kiese Laymon, Valerie Martin, and Kent Wascom.

More info here: Tennessee Williams Festival

And here’s Marlon Brando shouting “Hey, Stella!” in Mr. Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire”: