Hello, Stacie Michelle Williams
After an exhaustive selection process, The Pfister has named its newest Narrator. Beginning May 1, writer and book-lover Stacie Michelle Williams will replace Julie Ferris as the hotel’s second in-house blogger and storyteller. For about ten hours per week over the next six months, Williams will document the comings and goings of the Pfister’s guests, explore the building’s storied history, and give voice to the many people working behind the scenes at one of Milwaukee’s toniest hotels.
So what’s Stacie’s story? I chatted with the California native about her love affair with the written word and what she plans to do with her new post.
Tell me a bit about yourself — where are you from, how long have you lived in Milwaukee, and what do you do here?
I moved to Milwaukee in 1998 from the Bay Area to attend the Professional Theater Training Program at UWM. Alas, it caved within a couple years of my moving. Then life stepped in, and I started to walk a different path altogether. I’ve been in Milwaukee for 12.5 years now. Wow. Every time I do the math, I just can’t believe that it’s been that long – and it keeps getting longer!
What originally started out as a four-year stepping stone turned into a permanent residency. Milwaukee is an easy city to fall in love with, even if you are a liberal girl from a warmer climate. Currently I work at Boswell Book Company in marketing and publicity for our author events. I’m also just a regular bookseller, though ‘regular’ implies that it’s a simple job, which it’s not.
What drew you to the Narrator/Storyteller position at the Pfister?
It sounded like the neatest opportunity for a writer who leans towards what is known in the biz as “creative nonfiction.” The concept of being able to talk to people who pass through, stay at, and work for the Pfister as a wellspring for connection to people and city, sparked something in me. It was an instant connection. This came from two places.
The first has to do with my love for Milwaukee as my second hometown. I’ve always admired the beauty of the Pfister Hotel, and respect its place in the city’s history. There’s even a slight personal connection I have to not only Milwaukee’s history, but to the Pfister’s especially: My dad’s dad (we called him ‘Papo’) told me a number of years ago about how he would come up from the Naval Academy in Illinois to go dancing at the Pfister. If he were still alive, I would be milking him for more details. I’m hoping to find some mention in the letters he wrote to ‘Mamo’ – my dad’s mom. How cool would that be?
The second place this spark came from has to do with my curiosity of what goes on in the lives and minds of others. I’m interested in the stories, jokes, experiences, thoughts, and feelings that belong to people who are not me. I’m a little bit of a psychological voyeur: I’m always wondering why people do what they do, how they feel and what they think when they experience something, and what goes on in life to make those things happen.
The idea of being able to do this in a viable way seemed like a no-brainer to me.
At what age did you foster a love of the written word?
I wrote my first story in 1st or 2nd grade and it was a mystery about a missing roller skate… or maybe the roller skate ran away – I can’t recall. There was a lot of bad, angsty/emo poetry as an adolescent, then a phase where I didn’t write at all because I wanted to be a stage actress. But it was like I had writing fleas – I couldn’t get rid of the itchy notion that I needed to write. So I started again and have been slowly nurturing my voice and focus ever since.
Any new ideas for the blog itself, like incorporating more multimedia components, for example?
I’m so glad you said multimedia! In my own blogs, I’ve always made a point to use photos as supplemental to the writing. I’m really hoping to be able to do that blogging for the Pfister, too. They have a highly talented, professional resource for photos and video. Something that brings a sense of “being there,” of artsy amateurish-ness, would be a great way to bring more color to the posts beyond the words.
In terms of any other new things, I’m a believer in linking a lot in a blog post – the more you link to places outside the site where the posts are hosted, the more likely the posts are going to be found by a wider audience. So, there will be a lot of happy little lines under words, phrases, and places.
Who knows what else may come to me, but these are jumping off points and I’m open to all sorts of things.
It seems that each new resident (whether it be the AiR or the Narrator) uniquely responds to the space to really make their mark, as they say. What are some of your plans with this new forum?
This is the hardest question. I’d say that there are two things I really want to not lose sight of: the history and the employees. The hotel has amazing history and I can only imagine the stories in archives or in memories that are waiting to spring forth. The hotel is a character with its own personality and charm.
Then there are those who are often invisible, but who are crucial to a hotel’s operation: the employees. Everyone from the guy who drives the airport van, to the women who dust the mirrors and the bustling folk in white who keep the food so fresh and tasty — these nameless faces have their own stories to tell, and I want to tell them. It’s been nice to see the Meet ‘n Greet posts that have been appearing on the Pfister’s site, as they accomplish a little of this very important connection. And Katie Musolff did some really touching sketches of employees, capturing them in moments of stillness and poignancy.
I hope to do more of that, but in a much more personal way.