Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before’s Launch at Jones Bar

On the heels of a successful official launch event for Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before, the book’s project team played host to a second celebration—this time, at Jones Bar in downtown Portland. With its neon and starburst lighting, 4-Player Pac-Man console, and Cure posters, this retro-themed venue was the perfect place to cut loose and celebrate Forgive Me, a book that takes place in early-nineties Oregon and is alive with references to the music of the era.

Though normally closed on Thursdays, Jones Bar gave the Ooligan crew a warm welcome, even creating a playlist based on the music that winds its way throughout the book. (Joy Division! Pet Shop Boys! Bauhaus! And of course, Madonna!) In all, nearly 100 people—friends of Karelia, past and present Ooligan folks, and curious passers-by—came through to mingle, dance, talk shop, and revel in the glow of our latest title.

Kicking off the event, author Karelia Stetz-Waters read a pivotal scene from Forgive Me—fittingly set in the City Nightclub, an all-ages space that once thrived in a nearby neighborhood. The book is based loosely around Karelia’s own coming-of-age experience, and the author maintains that Triinu, her goth-loving protagonist, is Karelia “had [she] been cool.” As she read, wearing knee-high boots in tribute to Triinu, her voice full of love and humor and fury, no one could deny that whoever she was as a teenager, Karelia, is now one very cool woman—and we’re so proud to call her an Ooligan author.

Busy Times.

It’s safe to say things have been pretty busy in the Forgive Me world. We closed out the summer with some big news and exciting plans. Team member Ellie’s hard work, personalizing letters and digging for blurbers, paid off with three amazing, heartfelt quotes for our cover:

Young-adult author Ruth Tenzer Feldman said the story is “compelling, compassionate, and leavened with humor.”

Heather Lyn MacDonald, director of the documentary film Ballot Measure 9, said our protagonist Triinu is a “genuine young heroine who reminds us, not without humor, that small acts of courage move the world forward.”

Finally—coming in right before our printing deadline—Sara Quin of the hugely popular music duo Tegan and Sara sent her personal reaction: “I absolutely loved this book. I cried my eyes out, so touched and amazed to read something that so closely echoed my own adolescence …The injustice and fear that homophobia unleashes on society’s young people has twisted so many coming-out stories into ones of tragedy. I will cherish Forgive Me and its message of kindness and hope while cheering the trailblazers who came before me; in their simple acts of defiance and love, they have changed the world.”

Sticking close to the book’s tone, we nailed down the perfect location for the Forgive Me launch. In fact, we love the book so much, we nailed down two locations. Karelia will bring her story to the public for the first time at Another Read Through on Mississippi Avenue on Sunday, November 15th. She’s looking forward to mingling with customers and hopes this is a great opportunity to connect to younger readers. Then, on the following Thursday, November 20th, Jones Bar will open early for a party celebrating all the hard work that went into this beautiful book. Karelia will read, everyone will toast, and the DJ will play the best of the ’80s and ’90s. Everyone is welcome!

As the fall term takes off, and the new Forgive Me team members get comfortable, we will continue increasing Karelia’s and the book’s presence on the internet. We will also be scheduling more events across the state and making connections with LGBTQ, literary, and educational organizations to form partnerships and promote the book.