Jamie Ford

Bozeman Montana Reads LOVE AND OTHER CONSOLATION PRIZES

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Courtesy of Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Posted Feb 1, 2019

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The seed of Great Falls author Jamie Ford’s latest novel, Love and Other Consolation Prizes, was a story of a baby raffled off at the Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition, the world’s fair in Seattle in 1909. 

“Somebody Will Draw Baby As Prize,” proclaimed the Seattle Times. 

The fair itself, on the grounds of what is now the University of Washington, also held some fascination for Ford, who grew up in part in Seattle. He wanted to reclaim some of this history that appeared forgotten on the campus. 

“We pave over our history and forget,” Ford said. 

While Ford could have taken those histories and crafted a light love story, that is not his style. His goal in writing is to “give people’s empathy muscles a workout.” 

“I think that makes the world a better place,” he said. 

Ford’s characters are often destitute and overlooked by the upper-crust of society. They are immigrants and sex workers and often women. 

“I grew up really poor and I think, unfortunately, poor people have more stories,” Ford said. “I like characters that have had to fight and scrap to survive, or just be accepted and understood.”

The boy is a half-Chinese immigrant, sent by his mother on a ship bound for America.

“I write to explore what my own family went through,” explained Ford, who is also half-Chinese. 

In his first novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Ford said he told a Japanese story through a Chinese lens. He was terrified of telling a story based in Chinese lore, or at least scared of the wrath of his “aunties” should he get it wrong. 

In Love and Other Consolation Prizes, the boy is given the name Ernest Young and after years of boarding school is raffled at the fair. The winning ticket is held by the madam of a brothel in the growing city. There, Ernest falls in love with two women in a twist Ford said was in part inspired by a teenage crush on a set of twins. 

“It didn’t work out,” he said with a laugh. 

The story alternates between Ernest’s story at the time of the Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition, and his recollection of his youth as Seattle is set to host another world’s fair, the Century 21 Exhibition in 1962. It draws from a series of real people in Seattle’s history to craft a story that humanizes their experience. 

“I guess I like the stories that haven’t been told,” Ford said. 

Host Post | Fall 2018

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Welcome to the Fall 2018 Authors Unbound quarterly Host Newsletter! We'll use this space to keep you updated on what other outstanding hosts around the country are up to, provide valuable information on event management and organization, and feature authors who we highly recommend for your next author engagement.

A|U Monthly Muse - August 2018 (Great Reads for Hot Nights)

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August 2018: Great Reads for Hot Nights

Still looking for a good book to help beat the August heat?  Check out these three amazing titles that transport readers!  Madeline Miller's Circe is a blisteringly modern superwoman drawn from ancient myth. Jamie Ford's Love and Other Consolation Prizes shines light on a fascinating and tragic bit of forgotten history.  And Crystal Wilkinson's The Birds of Opulence illuminates a bucolic southern black township, and several generations of women who have vexing relationships with the land, one another, and the fight to survive.  Be sure to check out Wiley Cash's Open Canon Book Club (featuring The Birds of Opulence in September), where readers from across the country will gather in virtual discussion! Stay cool... and let us know what you're reading!