Meet Nashville’s Authors at East Side Story
In a city where music is king, it’s refreshing to see the storytelling side of the arts not only encouraged, but actively nurtured.
Growing wings in a tiny nest in the Idea Hatchery, a small creative enclave in the heart of East Nashville, East Side Story is an all-local bookstore dedicated to supporting and providing a platform for local Nashville writers to tell their best stories.
Every book on the shelves is written by a local author, every painting on the walls painted by a local artist. The door chimes, and two guys enter, one talking about the children’s book he has just published. This common meeting ground is where he met the artist who ended up illustrating his book. And this is what it’s all about. Connecting and nurturing the artistic talent in Nashville so the stories can be told and shared.
“In this town, it’s easy for visual artists to find a corner to display their work, and musicians a venue to play, but where does the local author find a place to grow from scratch and promote their work when they’re published?” asked Chuck Beard, who hatched East Side Story two years ago. “East Side Story is an idea; a blank canvas for all local literary ideas to help make Music City more of a book town.”
When Beard won a nationwide contest in the summer of 2012 for a new business idea that would positively impact the local community, his dream took flight. Winning free web design and marketing tools for his idea, and finding an open spot in the Idea Hatchery, East Side Story opened in time for the Tomato Festival that year, representing an astonishing 100+ area authors.
The real magic happens the first and third Tuesday every month at East Side Storytelling, when Beard brings together and hosts local writers and musicians in a charming blend of talent and entertainment.
The venue is Mad Donna’s, a trendy little East Nashville restaurant at the corner of Woodland and 14th Street. Beginning at 7 p.m., the selected writer reads from their original work, followed by a musical segment from the local featured musician or group, while guests can partake from Mad Donna’s food and spirits. Beard then moderates a casual conversation about the source of their creative inspiration, and their ties to Nashville. It’s evident that he carefully pairs author and musician, intuitively looking for common ground.
Last week, at the 31st East Side Storytelling night, both were bordering on the fantastical, taking the listener on a flight of fantasy.
Sharing a chapter from his book The Wind Merchant, author Ryan Dunlap comes from a background as videographer, producer, director, actor and author. The Golden Sounds, a self-proclaimed “dreamy Nashville Indie-rock band with a side of Christmas lights,” was well matched as the musical guest. Limited art prints created for the event, signed copies of the book, and music CDs were available for purchase. By 8:30 p.m. the free event was over, but most people were not in a hurry to leave.
Not to worry if you miss a particular artist or author. Each bi-monthly live storytelling is recorded and edited into an hour-long podcast/radio show and posted on East Side Story’s website. You can guarantee you’ll find a copy of the book on the shelves at East Side Story in the Hatchery. In this intimate community, you may also meet a local author or two wandering into the bookshop, or hear some great stories being shared. Check the calendar on their website for local book signings and readings.
Have you wondered about your own writing talent? East Side Story offers a writing contest on their website every month, posting guidelines and a theme prompt. Take a look and give it a go! You may surprise yourself. After all, the only way to truly be a writer is to write!
Who’s your favorite local author and why?