Sunday, February 24, 2008

Anderson's Breakfast

Yesterday Matt and I went to our fourth Anderson's Bookshop Children's Literature Breakfast. They are always fun because we meet a lot of teachers and librarians and authors, but they are also always stressful for several reasons. Matt is public speaking phobic, and even though the format is that there are a few Mega Author Speakers who speak in front of the whole crowd of 600 (this year was Richard Peck and Keven Henkes and a no-show Ann M. Martin [due to weather]), and the rest of the authors sit at each of the sixty tables, rotating every half hour or so, telling our tablemates about our books and stuff, it's still like being on for a full four hours. I find it difficult, as well, because it's always on a Saturday after having worked all week, and it's always at a venue that's at least an hour away from our house. We have to wake early, drive far, and smile a lot. This year there were so many authors that I think a lot of the teachers and librarians had trouble deciding whose books to purchase (they have a little store set up so you can buy any of the authors' books). In the past, there weren't as many authors (or attendees), and, therefore, people we talked to at tables often bought our books (probably to be nice or out of obligation after we visited with them, but a sale's a sale). This year only one of Matt's books was purchased and zero of mine were[pause to note that I don't actually know how many of our books were purchased, but only one person came over to us during the autographing time]. There were so many authors spread out in a huge room, waiting desperately (or it felt like that) for someone to want an autograph. It would be a little humiliating, except that most authors were in the same boat. Oh well. So is the life of a relatively unknown author. I wonder what it would be like to be the Richard Peck, with his line around the block for autographs for over an hour. Someday, maybe. Speaking of Richard Peck, he wrote one of my favorite novels of all time, Fair Weather, about kids going to the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. I had him sign my book and told him I was seeing Erik Larson speak today about Devil in the White City. Mr. Peck and I talked a tiny bit about how he wished that Larson's book had been written earlier, so that he could have used it as research for Fair Weather. Then he said, "Larson has a new book out, doesn't he?" And I said I didn't know. And then Peck said, "Well that's probably what he's going to be talking about." And I felt all stupid because it made me seem like a poseur, so I said, "No, he's talking about Devil in the White City because it's a One Book One City thing," but I still felt stupid. And then I had to rush out of there for the next person. Sigh. It's never quite what you expect, is it?

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