I admit it: I stalk authors.
It’s not hard to do. Follow them on Twitter…. find their fan page on Facebook… look at their website…. check your local bookstore’s calendar of events…. watch for conferences and special events in your area…. and, there are other ways.
And so, over the past few years, I’ve had the privilege to meet quite a few.
I saw Eric Rohmann 3 times over the course of 2013- and he accused me of stalking him after the third time (I think he was only half-kidding).
This past Friday evening, I got to meet Lois Lowry. I heard about the event via a retweet on Twitter. So, I made the journey, drove about an hour and a half to Madison, WI, and got my two Newbery winning books signed by her.
You’d think that after meeting authors for quite a few years, I’d be a little less starstruck when I met an author. Not the case.
When I’m in the signing line, I always rehearse in my head what I am going to say to them. How much I enjoy their books. How much my students enjoy their books. What an honor it is to meet them. Thank them for doing something so important for children. And, of course, don’t forget to ask them if you can take a picture with them.
But, it usually all falls apart by the time I get to the author and I am lucky if I cam mumble something that is coherent. The same thing happened when I met Lois. I was gutsy enough to ask for a picture, but I didn’t get to tell her about my experience with her book in the 6th grade (which is a different blog post in itself).
And, my starstruck-ness must be apparent. I met Judy Schachner this past fall at the PCCLF. My voice trembled, my heart began beating fast, and my palms were sweating. I sat in the front row of her sectional, and she said, “Are you afraid of me, Dylan?”
Gulp. No…not afraid. Just extremely starstruck.
At the same festival, I got to be an autograph assistant for Kevin Henkes and introduce him at his sectional. Kevin Henkes is one of my favorite authors, and has authored some of my favorite books. So you can imagine how nervous I was sitting right next to him.
Again, I was looking for the right words to say to let him know how much I loved his work and was able to weave it throughout my curriculum in first grade. As we walked to his sectional, I just blurted out “You’re probably my favorite author.”
Now, Kevin Henkes is one of the kindest, sincere, and humblest people I’ve met, so he took this well. And as we chatted, I began to relax, though the whole experience remained seemingly surreal.
This past fall, I also was in charge of a literacy event at our school which brought four authors and illustrators to our campus. I had the privilege of driving Anna Dewdney and Steven Kellogg from their hotel to our school. I was nervous the whole time they were in my car, but we had delightful conversations.
And yet, I have learned something from all of the experiences. Authors are humans just like we are. They put on their pants one leg at a time just like we do. And, they are usually just as excited about meeting teachers and readers as we are about meeting the authors. They love hearing from children and interacting with the readers of their books.
Other people have athletes, movie stars, musicians, and others whom they may chase after. I have authors. I am usually more in awe about them and their works after meeting them. If you ever have a chance to attend a signing, festival, conference, or other special event with an author, go! Bring your children. Bring your friends. Bring your books and get them signed. it is a rewarding experience and one you will treasure for a while.
And don’t worry about being starstruck. They’re used to it. And as you interact, you’ll see how nice they really are.