The Cafe at Books & Books at the Adrienne Arsht Center hosted Miami-based author Octavia Yearwood Tuesday evening for an interactive session based on her debut book, “How The Hell Did You Do That?”
Yearwood describes herself as an expressionist, artist, motivational speaker, mentor and now author. She said her work is a self-help guide, memoir and workbook created for people who have been through traumatic childhood experiences.
“For me, being a former foster child, it was really important to leave an artifact for youth [and adults] to start to learn how to work through mental blocks that come from traumatic experiences,” Yearwood said in an interview prior to the event.
In each of the nine chapters of the book, readers are introduced to a life lesson, told a story about how she came to learn that lesson, and then given six questions for them to answer as they relate to her story.
“That’s the interactive part,” she said. “It’s me introducing them to really opening dialogue with themselves about where they are, where they want to be, what they feel, what they think, and what they’ve been through.”
Wendy Rodriguez, one of the 18 attendees, said the questions makes the book powerful.
“The questions help you to be introspective in ways that you may not challenge yourself to be on your own,” she said. “There is nobody reading the questions but you, no one answering but you, no one judging what you write. The book gives you no choice but to be honest with yourself.”
The event also introduced guests to an online video-based program Yearwood created to supplement the book. The platform allows fans of the book to login to a site and see videos of Yearwood asking them questions from the book as well as her personal responses to each question. The readers are then able to record their own answers “confessional style” for Yearwood to receive and respond.
She hopes that this program will be utilized in high schools, colleges, and youth programs to provide support for those that may have gone through traumatic experiences. Yearwood said she has a mental health specialist working with her to help her respond to those that reach out to her. For more info, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
“A village, a city, and a world raised me. As a product of a community, I know how vital it is to the success of someone who has been through traumatic childhood experiences. I think about what has helped me heal, helped me move through and past these blocks, and I create where I see that there’s a void,” Yearwood said.
Yearwood had six stations spread throughout her event where attendees interacted with the platform and were invited to upload their own video responses to the questions.
Keith Greene, the manager of the store, said those interested in similar events should go to the events calendar online or come into the book store and grab a flyer.