Love at First Book

a short story in verse

From across the coffee shop
Lorelei catches a stanza
cranium over Converse
of heart-stopping description
of a boy
with a book
in his back pocket.

And that might have been her last line.

If he didn't
leave it behind
with a poem
tucked between the pages

A poem about a candy-striper
with bright hair
and an angel's voice
who reads to hospital patients

like Lorelei does.


Q: What inspired you to write Love at First Book?

A: I was waiting in line to participate in the Democratic Caucus when I noticed that the young man in front of me had brought a book with him. It was in his back pocket and I thought that if I was a teenage girl, I probably would have fallen in love with him right then and there. (It turned out that he was very nice and we cast our votes for the same candidate.)

Q: The setting for this story is very limited. How did you come to choose the hospital and coffee shop?

A: I worked in the marketing department of a hospital for about seven years, and while I was there, I met a young volunteer named Lorelei. Her beatiful name stuck with me. The coffee shop is loosely based off of Flying M in Boise, athough I took a few liberties with rearranging the furniture and adding a phone booth. Flying M is also Jamie's favorite place to grab a snack in Fan Art.

Q: Why a short story and not a novel?

A: Love at First Book has the potential to be a novel, but at the time I was writing it I wasn't ready to commit to the larger plot — which would certainly make me cry before it came around to a hopeful ending. I also knew that the novel version of the story would have to dive into one of the character's medical history, and I would need to research that more closely. So for now, I am please to share it in its short story form.

Q: I first heard of Love at First Book over at Hunger Mountain. Can you tell me more?

A: Of course! I owe a huge thank you to Hunger Mountain, the Vermont College of Fine Arts Journal for the Arts, and to the judge, Katherine Applegate, for naming Love at First Book a finalist for the 2014 Katherine Paterson Prize in Young Adult and Children’s Writing and for including it in the 2015 LOVE issue. I am also grateful to the Idaho Writers Guild for placing it in their 2014 contest, and to Writer's Digest for the Honorable Mention in the Young Adult Fiction Category of the 2014 Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards. Hunger Mountain and the Katherine Paterson Prize also played role in the publication journey of Fan Art which had been recognized when it was much shorter--a short story told in verse and titled I Love You, Man.

Q: Is it true that you read the audiobook version of Love at First Book?

A: Yes, we have a lovely non-profit recording studio here in Boise called Boise Hive. I worked with one of the volunteers to produce the audiobook.