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Central City native pays 'homage to roommates' in new book

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By Laura Farmer, correspondent

Author and illustrator Becky Simpson is one of the lucky ones. She had good roommates. Lots of them.

“I have this whole catalog of memories and inside jokes and all of this inspiration (from my former roommates) that I felt that I couldn’t not pay tribute to that,” she explained in a recent phone interview.

Simpson’s latest book, “The Roommate Book,” is “an homage to roommates,” filled with quirky drawings and charming text detailing everything from a poor woman’s guide to decorating to a convincing case for blanket forts, including a useful building supplies checklist.

The book’s unique style fits the theme well. “I wanted to make something that was fun for me to make,” Simpson, a Central City native, explained. “I wanted to make it whimsical and fun and challenge myself in ways, which I did with more writing. I just put in what I thought would be fun to create.”

Simpson has had 19 roommates in her life, beginning with three young women she shared an apartment with while studying at Iowa State University.

“The cool thing about really good friends is that you think that you’re the only one in the world with that kind of relationship. I felt like that with my roommate. I thought: I have to write this. Because mine is the best.”

At her upcoming reading at Barnes & Noble, Simpson will discuss the process of bringing together a book that blends text, drawings, maps and activities.

“I want the signing to be like the director’s cut, not just what you experience from reading the book.”

Simpson plans to read from an essay she wrote about her first impressions of all her roommates. Originally she planned to include the essay in the book, but decided to omit it at the last minute.

“I didn’t want to make the book about me — it’s certainly written from my point of view — but I really wanted to make it about the reader: to share that joy and encourage others, women especially, to make the most of the roommate life.”

To purchase Becky’s illustrations, visit her website, www.chipperthings.com.

Book reading

What: Becky Simpson will read from her book “The Roommate Book”

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Barnes & Noble, 333 Collins Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids

Cost: Free.

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