Terrible, Brave and True: An author conversation about the influence of life change on the creative process

Join Life Coach and Author, Naomi Vladeck and Author and Artist Jenny Laden in a special author conversation on Saturday, September 23 at 5pm.

During this event, Naomi will share stories and practices from her new book Braving Creativity, Artists Who Turn the Scary, Thrilling, Messy Path of Change into Courageous Transformation and invite author Jenny Laden, to share how her experience of losing her father to AIDS and a deep desire to expand the narrative of AIDS history influenced the creative process that led to the writing and illustration of her YA visual novel, This Terrible True Thing.

The evening includes readings by both authors, and a facilitated Q and A.

Advanced Registration is required, seating is limited: $10 for General Admission / Free for HVWC members – Become a member today!

More about This Terrible True Thing

This Terrible True Thing (Blackstone Publishing) is a YA novel based on author Jenny Laden’s experience of losing her gay father to AIDS in the 1990’s. A highly-illustrated, “visual novel,” it is told through sketches, journal entries, and first-person narration.  This Terrible True Thing will be published on September 5, 2023.

More about Braving Creativity

Braving Creativity, Artists Who Turn the Scary Thrilling Messy Path of Change into Courageous Transformation (New Degree Press) shares the real-life stories of women artists, including the author’s own story, to illuminate how our lives and our art can be transformed after a big life change.  Braving Creativity will be published on September 15, 2023

About This Terrible True Thing

While high school senior Danielle Silver is applying to RISD to fulfill her long-time dream of becoming an artist, she finds that AIDS has struck her father’s friends. Balancing mourning and physics homework, first crushes and paralyzing fear, Danielle must struggle to find the positive in the dark days of the early 90s. The visual style of the work allows us to see Danielle’s drawings, read her journal entries, and experience her poetry as she tries to capture all the feelings of her adolescence and hard realities collide. It is in turns touching, insightful, funny, and devastating as we watch a girl realize the relationship between the personal and political, art and activism. While set in the 90s at the height of the AIDS crisis, the themes of pandemic fear and activism through art ring true to today. The work includes 59 b/w illustrations, and each chapter of the book is titled for a relevant “vintage” song to help set the mood. Here is a full playlist.

About Jenny

You can see more about Jenny and her work at her website. She is a graduate of Barnard College and has an MFA in fine arts from NYU. By day, she is the Director of Development at the Institute of Contemporary Art  at the University of Pennsylvania. She has shown her work in Galleries in NYC and internationally, and was an HIV and AIDS educator, speaking to groups of public school high school students, and worked with children of gay families with C.O.L.A.G.E.  Jenny lost her father Richard to AIDS in the early 90s. She discussed this in this 2015 WHYY interview.  She has also been interviewed about the writing of the book on this Gen X Stories podcast.

Advanced praise for This Terrible True Thing: 

“Jenny captures the confusion and sadness of the dark days of AIDS…Through her intimate voice and illustrations, she powerfully conveys the experience of being a teenager caught between worlds…This is a tender story, a beautiful story. I loved reading it.” Alysia Abbott, author of Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father

“A generous-spirited, beautifully human, elegiac first novel of love, family, loss, and the transformative power of art that will crack open your heart and make new room inside. I wish I’d had this book years ago.”
– Libba Bray, #1 NYTimes bestselling author

“With crisp writing, elegant illustrations, and characters who just burst with life and authenticity, Jenny Laden delivers a moving, finely crafted story that immerses you into the soul-wrenching early years of the AIDS epidemic. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll love this triumph of a book.”
– Neal Bascomb, NYTimes bestselling author of The Grand Escape

“This multifaceted novel helps young people connect with a vitally important time that they may know little about – the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the early 1990s.  Dani’s journals, drawings, and stories personalize these historical moments and make this time come alive.  While the events may be in the past, the lessons of compassion, empathy, and love that Dani, her family, and friends learn are timeless.”
-Al Vernacchio, author of For Goodness Sex: A Sex-Positive Guide to Raising Healthy, Empowered Teens

“This Terrible True Thing is a brilliant blow-by-blow about what it means to love someone who adores you, and then lose them right when you need them the most. Art-love suffuses every page. There are many passages I wish I could have written…Jenny Laden’s witty voice and sharp powers of observation make for a unique, fresh, and important debut.”
– Justin Evans, author of A Good and Happy Child

“A 90s nostalgia trip that, for once, doesn’t ignore the AIDS epidemic, but rather tackles it head on with heart and dignity, This Terrible True Thing authentically portrays the tension of living in two worlds –– neither of which you feel you fully belong in…witty, earnest, educational, and deeply cathartic all at once.”
– Jackson Bird, writer, performer, and LGBTQ+ advocate

About Naomi

Naomi Vladeck is a certified life coach devoted to advancing the work of independent artists and creatives through her company Creativity Matters Coaching. Naomi has been working with and around independent artists for thirty years as a planner, performer, nonprofit founder, and coach. The experience of her husband’s alcoholism and death led to her writing debut: Braving Creativity, Artists Who Turn the Scary, Messy, Thrilling Path of Change into Courageous Transformation. Naomi has a gift for turning crisis and confusion into courage and clarity so that artists can become the creators of their lives.

When not traveling to ice hockey games with her son, Naomi is dreaming up ways to inspire artists to embrace change and find the courage to create the life and work they love. For more information, go to www.bravingcreativity.com.

About Braving Creativity

This book tells the stories of women artists who have confronted their fear at critical moments and emerged at new beginnings, not just to tell the tale but to thrive beyond their previous imaginations.  This book offers a framework, touchstones, and inspiration with stories form fifteen independent artists – playwrights, visual artists, theater artists, choreographers, and filmmakers who make choices to brave creativity after big life change!

Advanced Praise

“Artists show us how to make something out of nothing or salvage a wreck, and Naomi Vladeck is doing something similar for our emotional lives. With the insights of a life coach and the warmth of a best friend, she shows us how a crisis, disruption, or stagnation can become fruitful and fulfilling.” – Jori Finkel, arts writer for The Art Newspaper and The New York Times

“I love this book. It tells the real stories of real artists, the ones who get scared, who get sick, who get betrayed, who get off the mat and find the way to create. It is poignant and beautifully written and, well, just honest. If you’re interested in the creative life, in artists, or in how to live, this book is for you!” – Eric Maisel, Author of Coaching the Artist Within

“A beautiful collection of stories that encourage and inspire us to be courageous and to challenge our assumptions about how things are supposed to work out.” – Anne Bogart, Theater Director and Author of The Art of Resonance

“This is a hugely inspiring book about badass creative bravery from an expert in the craft. Whether or not you are ready to step into the fire, do it anyway. And, let Naomi Vladeck be your guide.” — Andrew Dietz, Author of Follow the Meander

“This is the story of what artists can create from the other side of soul-shattering change. Naomi and the artists in the book show us that the path toward wholeness is anything but straight.” – Erika b Hess, Artist and Host of I Like Your Work podcast

“A powerful meditation on the terror, ecstasy, healing, and rebirth essential to the creative process. Naomi Vladeck gives sensitive and sage guidance, reassurance, and process to anyone looking to stoke or reignite that creative fire within, after any matter of ‘trauma’. An inspired read!” Lisa Fragner, VP, Animation Development, Disney Branded Television

“Naomi is a candle in the night on the creative journey, providing solidarity on an often solitary path, and trust in the powerful unknown and unknowable forces of life. With captivating vulnerability, wisdom of experience, and practical smarts, “Braving Creativity” is a must read for makers and dreamers and those embracing the mystery at the heart of being alive.” Caitlin Trainor, Choreographer

Event Location and Ticket Information

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Hudson Valley Writers’ Center
300 Riverside Drive
Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591
Handicap Accessible? Yes

Date: Saturday, September 23, 2023
Times: 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Ticket pricing:

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Presenter: Hudson Valley Writers Center
Presenter Phone: 9143325953
Presenter Website: https://www.writerscenter.org/calendar/naomi-jenny/