Name: Whitney Spotts.
Job title: Author Events Coordinator.
Bookstore: Schuler Books & Music.
Brief Bio: I am a former ballet-dancing-choir-singing-volleyball-player with a Masters from University of London, Goldsmith’s College in 20th Century English Lit. I am allergic to most everything. I am a hyperactive focus-shifter, so I dabble in all the arts. Currently obsessed with photography, posting online as Fetal Fairy Photography. I sang in a punk band called Bit in the ‘00s, and now I sing in an ‘80s band called Starfarm. In my adult life, I have always had a second job. I used to serve beer; now I sing Madonna. Life is good.
What books recently rocked my world:
S. by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst: Beyond being a literary thriller, this novel is a celebration of books and of physical written objects – stashed between the pages of the book Ship of Theseus (in the margins of which a separate story develops via notes written back and forth) are letters and pictures and postcards, reminiscent of Nick Bantock’s glorious Griffin and Sabine series. One word of caution — be careful when you open the book — where the ephemera are inserted is important, so keep the bits where they are!
Honorable mentions: Night Film by Marisha Pessl, The Quick by Lauren Owen, The Bees by Laline Pauli
Best damn events we’ve hosted: I worked on getting Christopher Moore for seven years before we finally landed an event with him for Serpent of Venice. I was on super-book-geek-stun mode, and I freaked the media escort out with my enthusiasm. It’s been weeks, but I’m still riding that happy wave. We also got to kick off Emma Donoghue’s Room tour, and had a brush with American royalty when we hosted Caroline Kennedy.
Most entertaining authors we’ve hosted: One of the most entertaining — and traumatic — events I’ve run was the one we hosted at our Lansing store for David Sedaris. David never fails to be engaging, and we had a massive turnout, so we piped him into the store’s overhead speakers to make sure everyone could hear. Then he started telling blow job jokes. Staffers were running to me wide-eyed as a mom escorted her kid out of the store with her hands over his ears, but it was too late to turn back. I didn’t have a back-up sound system in place, so we just had to let him roll. Then, while organizing the signing line, I accidentally called a woman pregnant, and guess what? She wasn’t. I now have a lovely copy of Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk signed “You called that poor woman pregnant. -David Sedaris.”
Strangest question a customer has ever asked: There are almost too many to be able to isolate just one, but probably my favorite that I personally handled was from a woman who had just stood in line for over three hours to get a book signed. The event was over and we were tearing down when I was called to the front. The customer was adamant that we find a more legible autograph because she couldn’t read the author’s signature. Eventually, after trying for over ten minutes to explain that a signature is a signature, kind of like a fingerprint, legible or not, she just returned the book. An entire afternoon for all that. Sometimes I just don’t get people.
Why our store kicks ass: We were just voted the Lansing-area’s best bookstore for at least the fourth year in a row. We are crazy about books and it shows. Our store is peppered with staff reviews and customers trust our judgement. Plus, our staff is just a fascinating group of creative, educated people. We have artists, musicians, teachers and, of course, writers on staff, and we’ve also had an astrophysicist. How rad is that?
What makes our neighborhood and customers awesome: We have the most incredible community of “super readers” at Schuler Books — people who just adore books, who visit us multiple times a week and have to-read lists as long as ours are. Our book-geek relationships have jumped into “real life” friendships, and they are some of my favorite people.
Why I do what I do: Because I legitimately cannot imagine my life without books. My earliest memories are of books, and I have lived the lives of thousands of people through the novels and stories I have read. I am a story evangelist.
If I weren’t selling books I’d be: a wildlife photographer, a sloth rescuer or a professional Netflix watcher.
Books that changed my life:
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: Possibly the first feminist novel I read, or at least the first I directly recognized as such. A couple of years ago I got to tell Margaret Atwood that her novel BLEW MY MIND. The wind was a little out of my sails since the guy in front of me had hand-sculpted a plasticine figure of Margaret as a magic wood crone. No joke.
My Sweet Audrina by V.C. Andrews: Scoff all you want, but this was my first encounter with an unreliable narrator and it BLEW MY MIND.
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh: Changed my life in the sense that I spent the weeks following reading HtS sneaking around my neighborhood with a notebook and a pen, spying on my neighbors. The only thing I discovered is that my neighbors were boring.
Top three authors, living or dead, I’d invite to my dinner party: Jane Austen, Stephen King, and Christopher Moore
Top three songs on the soundtrack to my life:
1. “Woo-Hoo” by The Rock-A-Teens
2. “Hyperballad” by Bjork
3. “50 Ft Queenie” by PJ Harvey
My last meal request: Sushi, macaroni and cheese and no-bake cookies straight out of the mixing bowl.