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I Say Awkward Things To Authors: BEA 2014 Edition

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Amanda Nelson

Staff Writer

Amanda Nelson is an Executive Director of Book Riot. She lives in Richmond, VA.

Three years in this business and nothing has changed: I still say ridiculous, awkward things to authors. It’s a combination of Being Confronted With A Very Smart Person I Respect and a dash of What Can I Say To This Person They Haven’t Heard A Million Times Already (nothing, the answer is nothing). Book Expo America, an annual publishing trade show, is an excellent event for experiencing a concentration of awkwardness, what with all those professionals and authors wandering around.

This year was a LITTLE less embarrassing than years previous because Book Riot has grown and many authors have been featured here and know about the site, so once they read my badge and saw that I work here, THEY talked to ME about that instead of ME talking to THEM about roast beef. But that wasn’t the entirety of my encounters. There were a few head-hanging moments.

1. The first author I met was A.S. King, whose book Reality Boy I super-duper love, at the Bookrageous party. She had kick-ass boots, and hair that shined like spun gold and was very tall and was being very gracious and pretending like I wasn’t sputtering about how much I loved her book, but sputtering I was, so much so that I can’t even REMEMBER what I said to her. What I WANTED to say was something bitter and witty about media coverage of YA, but what came out was something like “It’s YOU! I like your words on pages! BLERGH!”

2. At this same party, my lovely Twitter (and now IRL) friend Rachael introduced me to Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus. This was AFTER I sputtered on A.S. King, so I was determined to not be ridiculous with Erin. I went to the other extreme, not even MENTIONING that I had read and loved her book with many loves and that I wanted to live in the circus inside her head (I’m glad I didn’t say that, that’s weird). So then I was internally panicking, thinking “oh dear, maybe she thinks I don’t know who she is, I do know who she is but don’t want to be another person among millions of people being all YOUR BOOK IS NICE MKAY” so again, I don’t remember what I said. Things I considered saying but did not include but are not limited to:

  •  “I love the jewelry sites you link to on your blog, I have always wanted a creepy raven claw necklace!” (This is a true fact, but didn’t say it because is it stalkery to tell someone you’re that familiar with their website, I don’t know the rullleeessss.)
  • “Do you live around here?” (don’t be a creeper, Nelson)
  • “Do you read any of your fanfic because there is A LOT OF NIGHT CIRCUS FANFIC” (what, do you think the woman who wrote the book doesn’t know how much people out there love the book I mean JEEZ)

But when it was time to leave I DID blurt out itwasnicetomeetyouIlovedyourbookbyyeeeeeee so I guess I covered that base. *eternal head desk*

3. I was the last person in David Mitchell’s signing line for The Bone Clocks, a line I wasn’t planning on joining until I walked by it and a random person thrust their extra tickets at me, saying they didn’t need them (THANK YOU RANDOM PERSON). When it was my turn, Mitchell had been signing for over an hour so I thought it would be nice to express some appreciation for that. What came out, though, was “SO. HOW IS YOUR WRIST DOING.” to which he snickered and said it was about to fall off, but thankfully his publicist probably had a cream for that, all in his very posh accent. And because I am a 12 year old boy, I started chortling because wrists and cream and falling off, etc., etc., he looked at me funny because I was giggling, I ran off mortified, the end.

4. I was also the last person in Megan Abbott’s signing line for her new book, The FeverShe said very nice things about Book Riot when she read my badge and THEN told me that she follows me on Twitter, to which I very promptly and strangely replied: “OH GOD I’M SO SORRY.” It just came out! I curse so much and rant so much and talk so much about my twins and bacon and gardening that the thought of Megan Abbott reading that shit (THERE IT IS AGAIN) made me just FREEZE and anyway. I’m sorry again, Megan, for all the times I say fuck.

There were more: Meg Wolitzer signed her new YA retelling of The Bell Jar, titled Belzhar, and she also said very nice things to me about Book Riot, which left me tongue-tied with gratitude of the life’s-work-affirming kind and all I could say was a derpy, doge-esque thank you. Very thanks! Much appreciate! Wow.

So thank you, BEA, for allowing me to be socially awkward and freeze and get confused around brilliant people, and thank you to all those authors who graciously let me do it without making fun of me. And thank you to God for manipulating events so that I missed R.L. Stine’s signing because WHO KNOWS what idiocy I would’ve said to him.