For me, hearing my favorite authors speak is like seeing a favorite band in concert but far better. For one, it’s a lot more intimate. Also, chances are a lot higher that you can get a picture taken with the author as well as speak with him as he signs your books. Sure, the hysteria may not be as high, but that really depends on the author and his fan base. I’ve never seen gobs of screaming teenage girls trying to bust down the door to meet some author. Still, people will line up hours ahead of time for a chance to hear and speak with the author.
Over the past seven years I’ve had the opportunity to meet several authors who’ve come to the bookstore. Twice I shook Tony Dungy’s hand. He was very polite and nice (some authors can be divas). I also got to meet Janet Evanovich, although I didn’t have a chance to talk with her except for a hello. I was too busy working; she was too busy signing books. At the end of the night, though, she gave thanks to all the booksellers who worked the event and we got a group picture taken with her. Then she signed my t-shirt, which our Community Relations Manager had made special for staff during the event. It read “Team Evanovich”* and then gave the date of the signing. You wouldn’t believe how many customers were offering to buy the shirts off our back! Hearing Elizabeth Berg talk was great. She was quite funny. Of course, when Nicholas Sparks came to our store, I didn’t meet him. I wasn’t scheduled to work and that was fine by me. It was probably a good thing, too, because who knows what might have come out of my mouth when faced with him. (Probably I would have said something like, “It gives me great hope that if someone like you can get published, then I can, too.”)
In exactly one week, one of my favorite authors, James Dashner, will be coming to my bookstore. I’ve written about him before on my blog but in case you don’t remember or are too lazy to look at older posts, he is author to The 13th Reality series and The Maze Runner trilogy. The second book in the trilogy, The Scorch Trials, comes out tomorrow. You can read my short, non-spoiler review of it here.
Why do I love his books so much? The concepts of the books themselves fascinate me. What would I do if I woke up in the middle of a maze with no memory other than my name? What would I do if I was told I could save not only my own Earth but other parallel versions of it, though it might mean risking my life? Dashner creates worlds of fantasy while keeping at least parts of the real one in tact so it’s easier (for me, at least) to believe that these events actually could happen.** Not only that, but Dashner takes the awkward kid and makes him the hero, but does not shy away from admitting that even they have their faults. He keeps his characters human rather than building them up to be superior and completely flawless. Humor, suspense, action, teen angst and awkwardness are just some of the elements that Dashner puts into his stories.
The thing that I love most about the books is that they grab you from the start and won’t let go until the very end. When I first read The Maze Runner, it was really hard to put down. I didn’t want to go to work; I wanted to stay home and read (and, no, that doesn’t happen very often for me). The book took me through a tough journey, then another trial with lives lost, and then settled in to comfort me that all the hardships the characters went through were over. Just as I was feeling relaxed about where the characters ended up, the last two pages of the book ripped that away. Suddenly, nothing was what it seemed. The characters weren’t safe and there was a whole other twist on top of that, too. And the most frustrating part about it all: I had to wait almost a year before finding out what happened next. Now, after reading The Scorch Trials, I have to wait at least another year before the final book will come out. At least I have the next 13th Reality book to read first, but that’s not until April.
Next Monday, though, I will get to meet the man who so easily grips my attention through his writing. I’ll be waiting with my camera, books in hand, trying hard not to jump up and down. Hopefully I won’t make a fool of myself and say something stupid to him. Hopefully I won’t be so in-his-face that I scare him away from ever coming back to our store. I’ll tell you one thing that definitely won’t happen at this book signing or other book signings for that matter: I will not fling my underwear up onto his podium while he’s speaking.
*The signing was for the release of her book Motor Mouth which was about a woman race car driver who stumbled upon a mystery to be solved.
**I know they really can’t, but it’s a lot more likely than a bunch of dwarves with magic powers defeating dragons. That’s the kind of fantasy I can’t buy into when reading.