I like speaking before crowds. The opportunity to tell stories and explain ideas was how I made my living for thirty odd years in the classroom.
Today, the breadth of my public speaking concerns discussing my book, River of January.
Before each talk my husband and I set up artifacts from the lives of my protagonists, Helen and Chum. For example I have this great picture of Helen in a chorus line dated around 1932, probably in Vienna or perhaps Brussels. There’s another of Chum posing in front of a biplane, a dashing smile exuding pure joy.
Listeners seem to enjoy poking around the display of mementos, especially after I present the slideshow describing a lot of the back story to the book.
Watching faces in the audience is something I particularly enjoy. On the table we also feature a vintage aviation trophy–tarnished, old and rather forgettable. Attendees often bypass this object until I describe the air race the object commemorates. Faces literally shift, expressions of nonchalance becomes enchanted with wonder. This trophy is clearly viewed with new eyes.
That’s the part I love the most. Inspiring a sense of wonder in a tired world weighted with cynicism.
Mont Chumbley receiving trophy for first place in the Darkness Derby.
Actress Helen Hayes hands over the prize publicizing her new movie, “Night Flight.”
Capitol Theater, New York, October, 1933