I like books. I've liked books as long as I can remember. And yet, despite spending the first eighteen years of my life next door to Chicago, I never went to an author event until last week.
Now that I live in Boise, I often bemoan the fact that the authors and musical acts that I really dig don't come here. For example, I was quite incensed to notice that Passion Pit was going to go to Salt Lake City, then skip a day and then play Spokane. That means that they drove right through Boise without bothering to stop.
(Just kidding, you're not jerks, Passion Pit - come to Boise!)
And when I did see notices of author events in the area, they weren't authors that I knew of or they weren't authors I was passionate about, even if they were big names. Okay, I did want to see Cheryl Strayed, but the tickets for that event were a) out of my budget and b) sold out in seconds.
But, as I wrote a few weeks ago, a magical concurrence of events occurred that allowed me to go to The Last Unicorn Tour and meet Peter S. Beagle on November 4th.
To be perfectly honest, I have attended one other author signing, if you want to count being dragged to the mall by my mom so she can get a signed cookbook from the Frugal Gourmet. I don't really count it, and what I remember most about that event was a long line emerging from the bookstore and wrapping around the upper level of the mall.
This was different. For one, the signing took place in a movie theater lobby, which was fairly dimly lit and subject to flows of people exiting their films and staring at the partially costumed hoard of people lined up in front of the tables of merchandise. I met some people in line, and attached myself to them in a way, since my husband didn't want to stand in line and I didn't want to be completely alone.
But when I got to the head of the line, where Peter sat and the skull glowered, I was alone, if only for a moment. I was tongue-tied and on the verge of tears. I wanted to speak eloquently, in a way that he would remember. But all I managed was to reference what he had said on the Writing Excuses podcast. "I must call myself a writer," I managed to stammer. And he told me to keep up the work. A quick photo-op and I was off to the theater to watch the screening.
A Q&A session preceded the film, and I later kicked myself for not asking the obvious question, "How is a raven like a writing desk?" But the questions were good, and Peter spoke in fascinating stories. It was a shame that the session had to end, because I doubt I was the only one ready to listen to Peter talk all night.
I cried during the film. At the sad parts, the happy parts and my favorite parts. I resolutely did not let myself get in the way of feeling and expressing those emotions. I revisited a film of my childhood and experienced it in a way that I never had been able to, on the big screen in a full theater.
I left feeling satisfied and glad that I had taken part.