Author Spotlight

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Brodart Author Book Signing Spotlight: Bryan Mealer

We’re happy to be hosting author Bryan Mealer, a reporter and Texas native with a University of Texas journalism degree, for an author book signing at this year’s TLA conference.

Passion drives Bryan Mealer’s projects. But in 2007, after four years of writing about the devastating war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, he was feeling disillusioned. “I was fried, to say the least,” Mealer says. “I was dispirited about only having covered war and famine and disease when I knew there was so much else to say about this vibrant, emerging continent. Not every country was at war, or full of misery.” Mealer longed to share a more positive story about the continent he held in such high esteem.

William Kamkwamba, from a Malawi village in Africa, gave him that chance.

Mealer found the elusive silver lining the moment he learned of William Kamkwamba’s inspiring accomplishment. Mealer says, “It was the antithesis of what I'd been writing about in Congo, and I became very excited to know more. It turned out that William was coming to the US in a few weeks, and [my agent had] arranged for me to meet him.”

Kamkwamba was only 14 when he made the windmills that changed his African village. Mealer says this helps The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind inspire young readers. “It's a universal story of triumph that everyone on this planet can relate to, and it speaks to the success of this book,” Mealer says. “People read this and think, ‘If a 14-year-old kid can overcome these obstacles of poverty and self-doubt and lack of a fancy education, then so can I.’”

Stories and libraries have long held a special place in Mealer’s heart. Many of his treasured childhood memories come from libraries, and he is looking forward to speaking with librarians at the TLA Conference:

“I owe everything to libraries and librarians. My first great memories of childhood are in a library -- the library in the First Baptist Church in Big Spring. Oil money had built that church, which featured a skating rink and bowling alley. It also had this wonderful little library tucked behind the sanctuary. It was an amazing place -- not only did they have Bibles and religious texts, but the shelves were also full of classic literature. When I was seven years old I spent many Saturdays here under the supervision of the librarian, Ms. Edna Ames, who introduced me to the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Treasure Island, Swiss Family Robinson, and many other great books. And thus, my love of reading began.”

Mealer also looks forward to discussing his upcoming memoir, The Kings of Big Spring: God, Oil, and One Family's Search for the American Dream, which Flatiron Books is set to release in January 2018. “It's a multi-generational saga of my family in the West Texas town of Big Spring, where we migrated in the early 1920s to farm cotton and work the Permian Basin oil booms,” Mealer says. “I've spent the past five years working on this book and I'm very happy to see it finally finished.”

Come to Booth #1525 to meet Bryan Mealer as he signs books and meets with librarians on Thursday, April 20, at 2:00pm.

Also, check out live demonstrations on applying book jacket covers and enter to win our giveaway!