On the Road with The Big Tiny

Dee Williams Book Tour Safety Kit
A little help for the road

By Dee Williams

I’m home in Olympia now, back from my six week book tour for The Big Tiny. I was absolutely wowed by the whole experience, and I want to share short vignettes of some of my most memorable tour stops over the next couple weeks.

The tour took me through so many amazing places, I started at Boneyard Studios in Washington DC, visited New York, St. Louis, Little Rock, Denver, Boulder, Seattle and Portland, and then went down the west coast with my new tiny house, Jolene. But I’m going to start at the beginning: in New York City, the day my book came out.

Preparing For Adventure

I was nervous about the tour and I didn’t know what to expect…so I took a box of power bars and my pair of Superwoman underwear emblazoned with a big ‘S’ on the front, hoping they would inspire me to be flexible, confident, and as humble as the situation might need. But like most true adventures no superpower garb was needed; I just had to pay attention to all the awesomeness being thrown my way.

The bookstores were generous and my travel companions kept me from walking around with spinach in my teeth. Friends showed up with food when I most needed it, and my mom, sister and niece showed up wearing my trademarked uniform — a pair of Carhartt coveralls – all to help me understand how much they love me, and how kind the world can be.

Dee Williams Carhartt family
A family of coveralls

The Seeds of a Tiny House

At my launch day reading in Brooklyn, New York, I finally got to meet my publisher at Blue Rider Press, after working with her for more than a year, standing in the elevated block seats at Powerhouse Arena Bookstore. If this had been a movie, an over-the-top fantastic soundtrack would have been playing to announce the magnificence of this moment…but instead, my friend brought his ukulele. At the end of my reading, the entire bookstore sang “You Are My Sunshine,” which pretty much summed up how I felt about my editor and all the other fine folks at Blue Rider.

The event included my cousins from the wildly talented band Roxie Watson, my brother and the superman t-shirt he flashed from under his jacket when I got nervous, and many other folks it turns out I already knew. Among the most surprising attendees was my college Architecture Professor, Bill Carswell, who I hadn’t seen in thirty years. We met before the reading and swapped stories. I felt a tad bit awkward, since I had dropped out of college during my third year at university. Bill shared with me that he had wondered what would become of me because, as he put it, “You seemed a bit lost then, but now look at you!”

Dee Williams tiny house sketch
Tiny house origins

I remember Bill because he encouraged me to design small spaces: to use light, shadow, color and subtle forms to create dimension instead of simply relying on square footage. Wise advice.

He also encouraged me to design for the environment, and to recognize that good architecture is born out of a certain clarity – a brutal honesty about how we live, what brings us home, and who we most want to be in our day-to-day lives. Bill taught me that in college, and all these years later it played itself out in my little house.

Bill’s demeanor meant a great deal to me thirty years ago, and it did so again in Brooklyn. He was quick to laugh, always offering praise instead of criticism, and encouraging a big picture view while paying attention to the little things. In many ways, he planted the first seeds of The Big Tiny. Full circle.

So cheers to Professor Bill Carswell, and all the great work he has inspired over his thirty-year career. We can never know what kind of affect we’ll have on people as they move through their own lives and their own journeys. And cheers to all the great folks who showed up in Brooklyn for The Big Tiny launch, and became part of MY journey.

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