Because of where I live, I basically get no access to the authors I’m interested in. It’s a fair trek for them without much reward – it’s a small population. I do know that Neil Gaiman has been here before, but that was before I’d read any of his books so I wasn’t that interested in meeting him.
When Jay Kristoff launched his book series Stormdancer, my husband and I had to take flights interstate and rent hotel accomodation, so I’d basically accepted that I wouldn’t really get to meet the authors I like even if they do travel to Australia.
I made peace with the fact that I chose where to live, but still, it’s hard missing out sometimes.
That being said, one of my childhood idols and favourite authors, John Marsden, last week attended one of my local bookshops in anticipation of launching the Children’s Book Council Awards. This is the story of what happened.
Meeting My Idol
As you know, if you’re a regular follower of the blog, (or not, if you’ve just stopped by) every year I take a book series from my childhood and reread it as an adult. I’ve done Animorphs, EverWorld, and this year I just happen to be doing the Tomorrow series.
So imagine my response when I found out ahead of time that one of my local bookshops would be hosting the author of the series, John Marsden, for a brief meet and greet and signing.
I basically never see these things ahead of time, so I was pretty excited.
John was due to arrive at 1.30pm, so my husband and I arrived fifteen minutes early to find a bunch of fangirls had already commandeered the floor directly in front of where John would make a short speech. I found paperback copies of Tomorrow when the War Began and While I Live, because I’ve been reading Kindle versions and wanted him to sign my paperbacks.
The bookshop sold them at full price, which annoyed me a little bit, because it was obvious there would be a lot of John Marsden sales that day. I mean, sure it’s their prerogative to sell at RRP but you’d think they’d take into consideration the bookshop would be full of fans. I don’t really tend to go to that bookshop because they normally do sell at RRP and a competitor where I’m loyal normally has a few dollars discount. When you buy a lot of books it all adds up!
John was late. I don’t know if his flight was late getting in or if he couldn’t find the place or what the story was, but he was late. I’d been waiting about half an hour when I needed to rest my leg. I’d twisted my knee the night before trying not to disturb my cats that sleep on top on me when I woke up to go pee, so I had a shooting pain on the inside of my right knee.
Hubs and I decided to take advantage of the cafe within the bookshop and ordered a hot drink and a snack, which took 20 minutes to deliver (I mean seriously how long does it take to deliver one warm drink and a lukewarm muffin?).
In that time John arrived, made a speech I thought was interesting at the time but can’t for the life of me remember what he said, and then moved to another area to sign books. The fangirls who had been sitting right in front of him somehow managed to get sent to the back of the line. Because I’d been in the cafe, I was the very last person in line. That was OK by me, as I didn’t want eveyone thinking I was showing off by being a book blogger.
The line took FOREVER. There was a guy going up and down the line spelling out people’s names and what we wanted John to sign in our books, which I thought was rather efficient seeing as how I do have a hard to spell name. I really would have liked to have made friends with the uni student fangirls in front of me, but I was way too shy. What was I supposed to say, anyway? “We’re book lovers and mutual Marsden fans, let’s be friends, here’s my blog business card, friend me on Goodreads!”
(And then I had a fear they wouldn’t be part of the online book community because I hadn’t been when I was at Uni, and they would just stare blankly at me. Oh, what’s Goodreads? Uh… nevermind.)
I waited in line for 45 minutes before I finally got to the front, stressing a little as John had to leave at 3.30 for another appearance. It was 3.15 by the time I finally reached my idol.
Normally I’m a really shy person, but I’d been rehearsing what I wanted to say to John for about an hour. I handed over my books and introduced myself by my real name so as not to confuse him, as my non de plume appears on my business card.
“I run a book review blog called The Moonlight Library (at which he perked up) and every year I take a book series I read in my childhood and re-read it as a grown-up, and this year I just happen to be doing your Tomorrow series!”
He broke into a massive smile and chuckled at this, as he signed my books.
Then, summoning even more courage, I handed over my blog business card. He said he liked my blogging name.
“In case you wanted to check it out, here are my blog’s details. Do you mind if I get a photograph?”
He asked me if I’d been a local my whole life and I said yes, but my husband wasn’t, and that I’d stolen him from England. John turned to him and asked what part of England he was from, and when he answered, John nodded wisely.
“Oh yes, I can hear it in your accent.”
It was so lovely that he didn’t assume my husband was from London! (because he’s not, and he gets a bit snotty when people assume he is).
Then it was the turn of the person behind me, who’d shown up at some point between the history section and the science fiction section.
It was all over so quickly. Hours of waiting, a quick handshake, handing over my business card and hopefully making some kind of an impact over Project Tomorrow, and it was done. I packed away my signed books and then Hubs and I went for gelato.