Monday, April 09, 2007

Sightings and signings

I met Jodi Picoult tonight! I went to hear her read and sign Nineteen Minutes. You want to talk about loyal fans! Her fans are serious. I heard women debating the merits of one book versus another and how Jodi's style changed from book to book. I can only imagine how gratifying that is. Of course, her book is currently #1 on the NYT list (which I'm sure has its rewards), but to see people in person who are actually reading and discussing your work (not just buying it because it looks right on their coffee tables) has to be something.

She was fast, Jodi. She got through 200+ people in a little over an hour. And without short-changing, it seemed. I scored an author-to-author introduction, thanks to the lovely folks at the Tattered Cover. Thanks Charles and Matt and Jinx and everyone who worked tonight! Thanks too to Lisa, Jodi's escort, who actually made the wonderful introduction. Tonight reminded me of what local, independent stores do that just can't be replicated.

I like to go to readings/signings and I like to be the one in the writer's chair. About 10 years ago, Alice Walker read at the Tattered Cover. She perhaps isn't as fast a signer-chatter as Jodi, so she wasn't speaking to anyone or personalizing books. However, while in line I watched her and noticed that she made a point of making eye contact with each person, silently acknowledging their humanity. When my turn came, Alice gave me a great big smile. I was thrilled. "Did you see that?" I asked my friend Jennifer. She said, "That's because you were looking at her like you were 3 years old and she had ice cream." That's how I feel when I sign books too: like readers are bringing me presents.

Here's to the 3-year-old in all of us, readers and writers alike.

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