Monday, September 24, 2012

Behold: My Life Goal

Last Friday night, Roommate Kathleen, Friend Allison and I went to a booksigning in Burlington, MA. We'd originally been planning to go to Libba Bray's event at the Brookline Public Library the same day, but Friend Tess told me that Sarah, Holly Black, and Sarah Rees Brennan would be at the Burlington Event. Friend Tess could not attend, leading me to make a phone call that went like this:

Me: Allison, remember how we were going to the Brookline event next Friday, and you were going to take your car to that?
Allison: No, actually, I was going to take my horse--
Me: Right, but, so, and, we're going up to Burlington instead, and we're taking Kathleen and her friend Anna.*
Allison: Okay!

Event preparation was difficult. Libba Bray has written all the things, and seeing the mountain of books piled on the coffee table required me to make CHOICES. (The dumb one of which was leaving Geektastic at home. I'll get it signed one day, I will!) Also, I'd ordered all of the Great and Terrible Beauty series from Abebooks, but one of them had a sticker on the PAPERBACK spine and removing it tore a chunk off and disheartened me so!

We ate at Chili's with my wheelbarrel wheelbarrow (We have recently discovered that like "colander", wheelbarrow is a word I chronically mispronounce) backpack full of books. Then onward to B&N. In the event area, we could only find one chair, which Allison pulled up to the front row for me. I felt like the Gimp on a Throne, with my friends flanking me, but it ended up crowded enough that we were not an island for long and it was less embarrassing. Which, it's not like my friends cared. The authors wouldn't care. Why did I care? Weird baggage, discuss.

The audience was a typically eclectic mix of Actual Teens, Adults and a few of those mythical creatures--boys! I bravely went up to a woman wearing a Maureen Johnson Stare T-shirt, and (shock! amazement!) correctly identified her as FelicityDisco, Maureen Johnson's assistant. She gave me a present! Allison was mystified in a how-do-you-know-people way. I gave her a lesson in The Twitters.

Kathleen and I watched the crowd grow and decided we want no more from life than to have even a smattering of people at booksignings who love our books the way people love these ladies' books.**

Sarah, Holly and Libba were wonderful. What struck my friends and I was how well they get on--they are such good friends. They have genuine love for each others' work and characters and it is awesome.

Sarah reading from Unspoken. Before the stripping. She also acted out The Diviners, pretty accurately from what I can tell three-hundred-odd pages in.

Holly giving Sarah the side-eye Kathleen already gives me sometimes. (Holly is awesome and signed the printout of the not-used, fits-the-series Black Heart cover I had tucked into my book).

Sarah under the table while we sing Happy Birthday to her. 

Their stories and writing tips had us alternately amused and inspired--basically if we can be half as good at them at entertaining a bookish crowd it will be incredible. When the time came for actual signing, my friends and I knew we'd be at the end of the line, so we clustered around my chair listening to the authors chat with teen Nerdfighters, grown-up librarians and the event coordinator who actually said "youse".

In line, Allison took my pile of books for most of the weight, until we got right up to the table. Annoyingly, seconds after I reclaimed them my new(ish) friend hip pain began spasming. It got better once I got to the table, but I probably looked a bit like a drug fiend popping a pill for it two seconds before my turn. There will be a post on this whole pain thing soon. Trying to wrap my head around thoughts on it. (Also, again with the my friends don't mind holding them, why do I worry so?)

Anywho, I've chatted with Sarah before, in person and online, so it was lovely to see her again, chat for a sec about my independent study, tell her the story of Anna and Kathleen* and share a mutual love for Buffy Time. Kathleen talked to Holly about being from Jersey, and I got to tell Libba Bray about my belief that not only does my one-eye-blindness totally make me qualified to be a YA author (she and Sarah are also one-eyed), but that we need to start a club. She agreed. There will be emblazoned smoking jackets.

On the way out, Allison and Kathleen commented on my skills at Knowing People. They'd both known about it, but never gotten to bank on it before. I'm simply not afraid to send an author/artist/person I admire an email. I believe in saying, hey, I like your stuff. It influenced me. Let's chat. Oftener than not, authors are cool about it and eager to exchange emails iffen you're patient and not begging them to read manuscripts.

On the drive back to Cambridge--aka the unending loop that is the interstate--Kathleen and I decided that we want our lives to be like that. We know that signing books for dozens of people for days on end is probably totally exhausting. That it'll take practice to learn to be on, and that neither of us is witty in quite the way of Sarah Rees Brennan. But we want to be up their talking about our books just as much as we want to see them in print. I think that's what really matters.

Also, it helps to remember that the goddesses who write sentences that make you squeal in awed delight are also cool people who went through a dressing-like-Buffy phase. (NB. I might still be in mine....)

In conclusion, yay booksignings!

*Anna couldn't come in the end, but there is a very funny story about her in re: SRB. When  Friend Tess and I went to the 2011 Diversity in YA panel, I overheard a group of girls talking in the ladies room. They were freaking out about meeting Sarah, because they'd made her a hilarious, embarrassing video online. Fast forward to Kathleen introducing me to her high school best friend Anna, who is now starting our program. We flailed about authors we like and events we'd attended and lo, she was one of the girls in the bathroom. TL;DR My roommate's high school best friend and I almost met a year ago, before either of them had started Simmons.

**We are going to have joint signings where we talk about living together. Allison will be our handler. Kathleen has said she will not act out my books Sarah Rees Brennan style, but will permit me to do dramatic readings of 80s parenting/disability books. DON'T THINK I WILL FORGET THIS.


  1. "wheelbarrel" is a Southern thing. KC likes to point them out for me. I also spent the majority of my life saying, "rather or not" instead of weather (well, some weird hybrid of rather and weather... "reather"?) and simUlar instead of similar.

    Even still, when I go to the grocery store and ask the bag boy if he can help me out with my "buggy" and he responds, "Do you mean your shopping CART?" he does not get a tip. Let us have our Southern funk, y'all! Besides, I always just assumed some guy stuck some wheels on a barrel and VOILA! Lord knows what a BARROW is, and I'm not Googling it. I'd rather not know. I feel secure in my knowledge of wheelBARRELS and sometimes we just have to choose things to be stubborn about.

  2. This sounds like it was so much fun! I'm so jealous. :-D