Old Town Books

Volunteering at the Carmen Maria Machado Reading with Old Town Books

Old Town Books - Carmen Maria Machado reading

Nicole Chung interviewed Carmen Maria Machado at the Old Town Books event, hosted at the Athenaeum of the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association.

This February I saw that Carmen Maria Machado was being interviewed by Nicole Chung in Northern Va. I contacted the hosting organization and they put me in touch with the event organizer and after a few emails, I was locked in as a volunteer.

And it was a brilliant move—thanks to my wife for suggesting it!

The conversation and discussion about how one approaches writing a memoir and why Carmen wanted to structure it in a speculative way was fascinating. It was exciting to hear that in some ways it parallels the approach I have taken to some of my speculative historical short fiction. I embarrassingly enough had not thought of how many approaches to memoir could overlap with thinking about historical content in general.

As much as I wanted to see these two authors discuss memoirs, I also wanted to make sure I was as helpful as possible. I showed up pretty early because I was afraid of traffic around the DC beltway being unpredictable. And as a result, I had the opportunity to check out the location. The Athenaeum is a gorgeous piece of historical architecture, and the Fax Ayres exhibit was a delightful backdrop for a discussion on speculative writing.

Carmen and Nicole were wonderful. Both were both gracious with their time and provided a stimulating conversation about craft and an interesting discussion about writing memoir itself.

I helped the Old Town Books staff set up and take down with direction from the staff of the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association, who maintains the Athenaeum. I think volunteering was worth it to meet the staff of both organizations alone. One of my goals for this year, was to expand my connections and attend events not just in the local literary community, but the local arts community in general.

Old Town Books is still a new book store, but they have embraced the opportunity to supply the Old Town and NOVA area with literary and arts events. In addition to bringing in authors and hosting workshops, they also host music events highlighting some of the shop’s favorite musicians, by inviting them in for intimate concerts.

Again, I’m so glad I did this for so many reasons. It was rewarding in a multitude of ways.


And I also got my story collection signed.