In my small city, there are three colleges, but only one big bookstore and less than a handful of small ones. Most are for used books or textbooks. Our best indie coffee shop just closed (I’m still crying about that because they had the best everything ever made). What I’m saying is, I live in a college town that only counts as such because there are colleges here. That’s about it.
That being the case, I don’t often get to meet writers or go to many literary events. The colleges bring in big names, but they’re the only venues that consistently do. There’s little in the way of interaction for the general public, of which I am sadly a part now that I no longer work in higher ed. Signings are set up to move quickly, so beyond a, “Hi, how are you?” / “Oh, y’know, too starstruck to say anything yet,” it’s hard to get in a chat.
But I did have the opportunity to look like a complete weirdo in front of Neil Gaiman as he signed my copy of American Gods. I’ve actually blocked out most of the exchange, but the picture my now-husband took as I was talking to him is just super-embarrassing. I’m pointing in random directions while answering the question, “How are you this evening?” My face is blotchy. My sweater/scarf combination is ugly. I can’t even bring myself to include it here, that’s how weird/embarrassing/ugly it is. But you guys, Neil Gaiman is so nice and so gracious that he didn’t even say anything about it. He signed my book, made me a nice little funny drawing, and then moved on to the next person.
When I met Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours (one of my favorite books and book-to-film adaptations), I had more of an opportunity to chat with him. His reading was held in a smaller room than Neil’s, which turned out to be a mistake because the room overfilled to the point of fire-code busting and, probably, illegality. He’s an extremely talented writer and just as good a speaker. He’s also a wonderful conversationalist and, when I told him how shy I was (still am) about my writing, he basically told me (in writing, in my copy of The Hours, to get over it, to keep working, and to believe in myself. Bonus: He’s quite handsome. Regrettably, I don’t have a photo with him.
My favorite story, though, is the one in which I get to tell you that I had dinner with Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood books. She is seriously the nicest lady I’ve ever met. She wanted to see the photo of me in the back room of the church at my wedding, reading Living Dead in Dallas, waiting on my groom to arrive. We talked about fabulous books, all the “dirty parts” of the show that her church-mates assume she would never, ever write, and just life. She is so down-to-earth and wonderful and kind, I wanted to ask her to adopt me as her niece. But I didn’t because that would’ve been creepy.
Got any stories? Dish if you do.
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