The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

Author Jamie Ford to Visit the Hi-Line


September 4, 2019

On Tuesday, September 10, Jamie Ford will be at the Blaine County Library for an author Meet, Greet, and Eat. The program will begin at 6:00 p.m. followed by a presentation by the author at 7:00 p.m. After his presentation, Ford will not only be autographing books but will have books available for purchase.

Ford is perhaps best known for his debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, which spent two years on the New York Times bestseller list and went on to win the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature.

He followed that book with Songs of Willow Frost in 2013. Shifting between the Great Depression and the 1920s, the novel takes readers on an emotional journey of discovery. About Songs, the Great Falls Tribune wrote: "Ford crafts [a] beautiful, tender tale of love transcending the sins people perpetrate on one another and shows how the strength of our primal relationships is the best part of our human nature."

His third book, Love and Other Consolation Prizes, is inspired by a true story about a boy whose life is transformed at Seattle's epic 1909 World's Fair. In 2017, Library Journal named it as one of their best historical fictions novels of the year.

In his own words, Ford considers himself "a decent writer, a failed poet, and a stridently self-deprecating individual." He has been married to Leesha Ford since 2008, and together they have a blended family with nine children and a dog named Lucy. They live in Great Falls, Montana.

"I'm the proud father of more teenagers than I can keep track of. Yep, it's chaos, but the good kind of chaos," Ford said.

The great grandson of Nevada mining pioneer Min Chung, who emigrated from Kaiping, China, to San Francisco in 1865, Ford is ethnically half Chinese. His first two books focus on the Chinese-American experience in the city of Seattle. In an interview posted on his website, Ford responds to an inquiry about his ethnicity and his name:

"Actually, I didn't even know the whole story [of my Chinese family and the source of the Ford name] until last year when I finally tracked it all down. It turns out my great-grandfather immigrated to America and later adopted the name William Ford––supposedly from the famous outdoorsman, not the father of Henry Ford. My grandfather, oddly enough, switched back to Chung as a screen name, going by George Chung and appearing as an extra in movies during the '50s. He went on to be a consultant for the '70s TV series Kung Fu. His son, my father, was 100 percent Chinese and fluent. Unfortunately, I don't speak Chinese––I had four years of German and that doesn't get me very far at family reunions.

"In general, I had a very American childhood, though when you're half-Chinese, you never fully fit in. You don't feel white and you don't feel Chinese-you're half, or hapa, as they say in Hawaii. Census forms don't have a box to check for half," Ford said.

According to Blaine County Library officials, the Hi-Line has Colleen Brommer, Library Director of Harlem Public Library, to thank for inviting Ford to visit. Brommer applied for a Humanities Montana grant to cover part of the cost, and Rachel Rawn, Library Director at Hill County Library in Havre, secured support from the Best Western to donate three nights in the motel. These sponsorships will defray the costs of Ford's typical speaking fee of anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000.


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