BK Lit Festival

The Brooklyn Book Festival was a good time on Sunday, and it was so great to see some of you there. Truly, it can be nerve-wracking to stand up in front of people and read, and being able to know you’ve got some peeps in the audience is such a calming thing. So thanks a million for coming out and supporting YA writers!

Also on the panel were Cassandra Clare and Melissa Marr. Poor Melissa was all kinds of sick–I’m talking “I’m going to puke any second” sick–and yet she managed to soldier on, reading from Wicked Lovely (which I have not read yet but am looking forward to reading) and answering questions intelligently and signing books with nary a peep. I was amazed because when I am sick to my stomach, I whimper and whine nonstop and make absurd bargains with the universe: “Okay, if you’ll just keep me from barfing, I promise I will personally save a whale. k thx bai.” I hope she is feeling better now and got to enjoy some of NYC before heading back home.

Cassie was her usual witty, dry self. She always manages to tell me some story in a completely bemused, arched eyebrow, Cassie-like way that has me slapping my leg in laughter. It was great to hang with her for the day, a real perk. But when she started to read from City of Ashes, the sequel to City of Bones, I had to sing la-la-la-la in my head so as not to hear any spoilers. I’m halfway through City of Bones and it rocks so hard! I can’t turn the pages fast enough.

The fabulous Sharyn November was our moderator. She had some of the most brilliant questions to ask, but sadly, we were in a time crunch, so I guess we’ll all have to stage a mock festival to answer all her questions. We can all wear black turtlenecks and look pensive.

I had one of those I’m-Going-to-Scream-with-Fangirl-Glee-and-Possibly-Pee-Myself moments on Sunday. My absolute favorite writer in the whole world is George Saunders (Pastoralia, In Persuasion Nation, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline). If it were possible for me to have the George Saunders Teen Beat poster in my room and the George Saunders bobblehead bottle opener, the George Saunders tea cozy and George Saunders big bass fish on my wall, I would. So I’m sitting in the author green room waiting around when my husband leans in and whispers, “Is that George Saunders behind you?” To which I blurted out, “Where?!!!!” And my husband put his palm to his forehead in disbelief and whispered, “Behind you, behind you, no, BEHIND YOU.” Whereupon I looked behind me and promptly vomited into my mouth.
“OMG!” I whispered reallyreallyreally fast. “It’s him! It’s George Saunders!”
“Go introduce yourself to him,” Barry prompted.
I gripped the couch and swallowed down vomit a second time. “I can’t. I’ll cry. Or say something embarrassing. Or eat my entrails in an effort to impress him. Or say something embarrassing while crying and eating my entrails. I might try to snip a lock of his hair to distill his genius in a beaker with my Home Genius Extraction Kit. I can’t be trusted.”
Barry rolled his eyes. “Just go introduce yourself.”
I looked behind me again and made a strange sound in my throat like a cross between a duck mating and a drunk passing out. And then I swallowed hard and went over to him. “Hi,” I said, extending a very sweaty, very shaky hand. “I just want to say that you’re my favorite author in the whole world and, um, I’m just thrilled to meet you.” (Cue maniacal smile. Should I go for the entrails?)
Mr. Saunders (I can’t call him George. I just can’t.) was incredibly gracious and said thanks and introduced his lovely daughter Caitlyn who is about twelve kinds of beautiful. “So what do you write?” he asked.
“Huh?” I said.
“What do you write?”
“Oh, um, I write, um, YA. Young adult. Teen fiction. For teens. Sort of fantasy and it’s, yeah, it’s for teens.” (I think I actually did a little Wallace-and-Gromit motion with my hands. Note to self: beat head into a wall later.)
“Well, that’s great! What’s your panel on?”
“Oh, ah…” (You have a panel, Lib. Jesus, get it together.) “Dark fantasy.” I nod many many times. While smiling like an eight-year-old Sanjaya worshipper.
“Sounds like my kind of thing,” he said, smiling. “Good luck. It was nice to meet you.” And then he grabbed his bag so he could catch his flight, and Caitlyn smiled sweetly and made a gracious goodbye, and I returned to the couch and my husband and said. “OMG! I shook George Saunders’s hand!!!! I met his daughter! Ahhhhhhh!!!!” while people smiled uncomfortably and moved away from me.
Now if I meet Pete Townsend, I’ll be afraid I have an incurable disease and am about to die, because I figured I couldn’t die until I’d met George Saunders and Pete Townsend.

I’m currently making my way through first-pass pages. These are the copyedited pages laid out as they will be in the final book. This is my last chance to make (small) changes and corrections. It’s coming out at 826 pages. Today, reading through it, I felt excited. And a little sad. And excited again. And critical (I’m human). And hopeful that it will be a satisfying ending.

On Saturday night, Barry and I went to see “Across the Universe.” It’s the new Julie Taymor film–a musical about the sixties set to Beatles tunes. I had really high hopes for this. It’s my kind of thing: very theatrical, slightly surreal, with a theatrical quality** (think Moulin Rouge). And I am a fan of Taymor’s. But I confess I didn’t love this. There were some truly arresting images that I liked. But there was no story–and not in an experimental, nonlinear sense. I mean in a “whoops, we forgot to supply a coherent plot” sense. Also, I’m old enough to remember seeing “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in the late 1970’s, which was another attempt at building a movie around Beatles songs, with rather disastrous results. (My best friend and I were 13, and we laughed so hard that snot came out of our noses. We still have little catchphrases that pertain to that trainwreck of a movie. So it was good for that at least.) Anyway, I was bummed that “Across the Universe” wasn’t better because I really wanted it to be.

At least it wasn’t as bad as High School Musical.

**really? is it theatrical? so theatrical I had to say it twice? Ay yi yi. Typing too fast. Brain too slow.

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