I’m strict about few teacher-ly things. One of these is an orderly line in the hallways. In fact, I’m very particular about my lines – they’re to be quiet, non-running, and the students should greet any adult they pass with a “Good morning.”
Creativity and spontaneity reign in my classroom, so my regimented outlook on lining up may be puzzling– unless you happen to know that when I was in 5th grade, my arm was broken by a classmate exhibiting unruly hallway behavior. But that story is in no way related to what happened in Books of Wonder on Sunday, so we’ll save it for another time.
The lining-up thing, however, is relevant to my Books of Wonder signing experience…
Shortly after arriving at the bookstore –to remove myself from the temptation of buying more books — I wandered into the back area where the signing would be held and began checking out the artwork. I challenged the-other-Tiffany to an identifying contest, then picked out prints I’d like to have in my house and explained where I’d hang them. Basically, I prattled on while St. Matt
and the-other-Tiffany nodded tolerantly and watched the store clerks set up tables and name cards.
St. Matt poked me: “Do you know there’s a line forming behind you?”
“What?” I turned. There was, in fact, a line that began behind me and reached back almost to the bookshelves. “Weird.”
I informed the girls behind us that we weren’t in-line for anything and continued to amuse myself by blathering and checking Twitter on Petunia, commenting on how – since the authors were sequestered in a room closed off by velvet drapes – they were quite literally the (wo)men behind the curtain.
The-other-Tiffany poked me: “It’s really a long line now.”
I turned again – the line was past the bookshelves and snaking back through the store. It was a good line. A great line really. Mostly single file, not too loud, people were respectful of each other’s space, no shoving, shouting or other tomfoolery was occurring. It was a line that would make any teacher proud.
Still… there wasn’t a need for a line and I hadn’t meant to start one. “Um, we’re not in line,” I said, then repeated it a little louder.
No one moved. Apparently my teacher line-up superpower overwhelmed them. The line now reached through the store and to the door. It was causing problems, blocking traffic. I was being capital-T-is-for-Tiffany-and-Trouble without meaning to. (Not that I ever really mean to cause trouble, but I have a talent for it just happening).
As I stood there alternating between being amused, anxious, and really wanting to start singing the song from Peter Pan “We’re following the leader, the leader, the leader, we’re following the leader, wherever he may go…” an announcement came on over the store’s PA system: Ladies and Gentleman, there is no reason to be in line right now. Please make yourselves comfortable, the authors will be out shortly and will be starting with a question and answer session. If you haven’t received a number for the signing that will take place after their presentation, please make your way to the front of the store to get one. There is no need for a line.
The line begrudgingly melted into a crowd-shaped blob and did the other thing I spend half my teaching day doing – sitting criss-cross-apple-sauce on the floor.
So when the authors emerged from behind their curtain, we were all ready for a class-meeting, or read aloud, or… er, a question and answer period with authors. The-other-Tiffany and I — since we’d been the front of the accidental-line — were now front row in the seated squad, which enabled us to get great pictures.
Lisa telling her Miss Spoobin story
Cassandra’s robot shoes
After each author had done her introduction, they opened the floor to audience questions. They promised a Hershey Kiss to each brave asker, but I’m sorry to say that they frequently forgot to toss them. (I think this was due to a woeful lack of accurate throwing ability). Not that the askers minded – it wasn’t the smidgen of chocolate that motivated any asking.
Some memorable questions: When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Lisa: 4th grade
Beth: After 40
Elizabeth & Cassandra: I fell into writing after trying everything else
Elizabeth Scott & Cassandra Clare
Do you write or read fan fiction or read reviews?
Universally, the authors distance themselves from fan fiction (although, Lisa did allude to some mysterious, pseudonymous Survivor play-by-plays). They also agreed reading reviews ends up being more confusing than helpful for them as writers – they’re more for other readers.
Lisa McMann & Beth Fantaskey
Lisa told a sweet story about meeting Madeline L’Engle when she worked in a bookstore. Cassie talked about how her interest in history influenced her writing and also mentioned possible graphic novel/side stories that may be forthcoming. Elizabeth spoke about how Living Dead Girl was inspired by a dream she’d had four nights in a row and Beth shared how adopting her daughters motivated her to write Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side. They were all charming and engaging; I could’ve sat and listened for at least another 30 minutes before my whole bottom half fell asleep. Alas/ at last, it was time to move on to the signing portion.
An announcement was made:
Those of you with numbers 1-15 please line up for signatures. Everyone else, please make yourselves comfortable, we’ll call you up in groups by your numbers.
And what did the crowd do? Did they go mingle and chat while waiting? No. They lined up. They lined up to get in line. There was the line of numbers 1-15… and then the line of people waiting to get in line when their numbers were called. I was tempted to ask the bookstore crowd if they’d like to come back to my school and do a demonstration of advanced-hallway-behavior.
Seeing that I was older than most of the audience, I tried to keep my impatient I’m-waiting-in-line-to-meet-Lisa-McMann dancing to a subtle shuffle-in-place. I must’ve been successful because no one asked me if I needed to use the restroom.
Finally it was MY turn. (I might have cut the-other-Tiffany and seen Cassandra Clare first). I hadn’t read her books before meeting her, but yesterday’s fan enthusiasm pushed City of Bones to the top of my towering tower of TBR and I’m now almost done. (The next two are on order at the bookstore – Distraction Fairy, thy new name is Jace).
She is lovely! She was kind, gracious, and willing to chat about spoons, Twitter, Cappy the kitten, touring, school… I forgot about the line toe-tapping behind me. It was like slipping into a conversation with an old acquaintance, and even though I AM a major fan, I didn’t walk away feeling like I’d been a blathering incoherent fangirl. I walked away feeling like I’d met a kindred spirit and thinking another perk of fulfilling my author-dreams would be meeting more people like her.
P.S. There were some superstars in the audience too. Among them: Justine Larbalestier, Scott Westerfeld and BEDA-Queen, Maureen Johnson. I was quite tempted to go ask Maureen how it felt to control the free time of 400+ fans for the month of April…but decided she might not want to spend her non-computer hours discussing interwebby things. The fact that I am now mentioning this in my blog, however, is absolutely acceptable. And is in no way, shape, or form a shameless bid to have my site chosen as BEDA blog of the day…