Ellen Hopkins book signing thoughts and ramblesApril 14, 2011
Like i said before, i’m sort of anti-social. i don’t like crowds much and i don’t go out much. BUT this was Ellen Hopkins so i decided to push myself out of my comfort zone. (i even drove on the toll roads)
i was happy i got there early because i was able to get a wristband finally buy my own copy of Identical and get a nice seat. Then it was waiting time. i, of course, checked Twitter on my phone and tweeted my excitement and felt warm and fuzzy when Ms. Ellen Hopkins, herself tweeted me back to let me know she was on her way. i know authors and celebrities are normal people- i don’t really think of them as anything else but i also know how busy they are and how many people there are who tweet and e-mail and write them ALL THE TIME so, anytime i get a personal response from one of those people i feel really special (so, thanks for that.)
i also decided to start re-reading Burned while i was waiting and fell in love all over again. Not just with the story but with the writing. It happens every single time i read or re-read one of her books. i also listened to the conversations around me. i loved listening to the girls in front of me discuss their favorite books and spouting off the merits of The Catcher in the Rye and
To Kill a Mockingbird. They talked about Harry Potter and had a very intense and intelligent debate about Snape. i was amused listening to the girls behind me discuss whether Ellen Hopkins would arrive in a limo or a regular car (the decision was a regular car because a limo would draw too much attention to her.) Then they wondered where she would enter from whether it would be from the back of the cafe or from the bathroom (??) and seem sort of disappointed when she just walked in like the rest of us had. There were others but it felt good knowing that the people around me were excited to be there and were excited about books in general and that they, like me, view authors as just as big of celebrities (if not bigger) as movie stars.
Then all of the sudden Ellen Hopkins was sitting right in front of me. See, right there:
i don’t know if you can see what is sitting in from of her but it’s an ARC of Perfect *swoon* it looked gorgeous. i think it might be my favorite cover. She told us a little about it and then read a bit from each character. Before going i knew what Perfect was about and that it was a companion to Impulse (which is my favorite of her books.) i was most excited to read about Conner’s twin Cara. However, after hearing from each character i can honestly say i’m not sure who i’m most excited to read about now. Andre was not at all what i expected (in a good way) and Kendra and Sean grabbed ahold of my heart and head more than i thought they would. And because i know her, i know that i can’t create any sort of picture of what might happen in my head because she’s so good at twisting what you think will happen into a completely new direction. i just wish i could find out that direction now instead of having to wait until September. Alas.
Then questions. . . this is where i’m about to go a little rambly on you. i like to know everything i can about things. i like to shove as much into my brain as possible. So i read blogs and follow twitter and click links and read dedication pages and whatever else. So a lot of “basic” questions that come up are ones i know the answer to already.
i do, however, love hearing them answered in real time because i like studying facial expressions and seeing how down to earth (or not down to earth in some cases) people are. If you’re wondering Ellen Hopkins is one of the most down to earth, fun writers i’ve ever seen speak. And i really enjoy watching the people who are asking the questions light up as they get those answers they’ve been searching for.
Here’s my dilemma: i think partly because of knowing a lot of these basic answers and going to the uber-small school that i did, my brain thinks more in a let’s have a discussion manner sometimes. So it’s not necessarily that i don’t have anything to say, it’s that i want to sit in a circle with everyone (well a small group if we’re being honest) and really talk about things in depth. This doesn’t work at events like this. And i realize this so i just stay quiet. But at the same time i have that feeling that i’m not participating, that i’m not giving anything back after the author, in this case Ellen Hopkins, has given so much (and left the Wizarding World of Harry Potter just to come speak to us. . . i mean that has to say something.) What do you think? Do any of the rest of you have that problem? Does that even make sense at all? How do you combat it, if at all?
Then it was time to get books signed. . . now, in actuality i don’t really mind whether i get my books signed or not because i’ve already created such a great memory by being able to hear the writer. But in this case i wanted to get out of my comfort zone and stand in line – a place where i knew i might be able to have a conversation with a stranger- something i don’t really do well. And sure enough as i was waiting the lovely ladies who work at the store came through with Post-its to write our names on so we could get our books signed. Both the person in front of me and the person behind me commented on my name and how they liked it. Then the person behind me (whose name was Amanda because the world was apparently laughing at me for not being able to meet anyone with any other name) and i started discussing which Ellen Hopkins book was our favorite- she hasn’t read Impulse yet and is in the middle of Burned. Then we got into a really nice discussion about the LGBTQ characters in her books and how much we both appreciated the fact that they are there in almost every book but there isn’t any sort of brouhaha about it- it just is. Like real life. It was one of those conversations where you are both so passionate and on the same page that even though you’ve never met each other you start finishing each other’s sentences. It was fun. i sort of felt like i was back at school.
Then it was time to get my books signed. Here’s the other ramble: it’s that awkward time when the author is signing and you want to say something not completely lame-o but it has to be relatively quick because there’s a line of people behind you. Not to mention you’re sort of in awe of this person because they’re doing what you hope you’ll be able to do one day and it’s all sorts of overwhelming. Four hundred eighty billion words ran through my head in those moments. i wanted to say thank you for Impulse because cutting is my story too. And suicidal thoughts are my story. And those queer characters, yup those are my story too. i wanted to say how i love that she can do something i’ve never really been able to do well- give a voice to someone who doesn’t have one. i wanted to say thank you for being brave enough to share your story with us through Crank and Glass and Fallout. i wanted to say thank you for writing in verse because i am a poet and i love fiction too and there wasn’t always anything out there showing you could do both at once. i wanted to say so much but all i was able to get out was a thank you for making verse novels so much more mainstream. i was shaking. i was so excited and at the same time disappointed in myself because i couldn’t get everything out the way i wanted.
As i was walking away, probably holding my books tighter than i needed to, i started thinking about how much i probably need to read Perfect because that is also my story. i know, logically, that i can’t achieve the “perfection” that i picture in my mind but logic usually doesn’t play a part in those day to day situations that cause me anxiety. i’m working on it one step at a time but i can’t wait to read a book that, once again, makes me feel a little less alone in the world.
i realized as i was driving home that as i was thinking about all that i sort of space-ily walked to my car and never said goodbye to Amanda so if you’re reading this, and you probably aren’t, i’m sorry i didn’t mean to be rude or stand-offish.
All in all i had an incredible night. Even when i get anxious because i feel like i’m not good enough at something- i feel good about it if i can take a step back and really think about things afterward. And i was able to do that.
So thank you thank you to Barnes and Noble and thank you thank you thank you to Ellen Hopkins- it was awesome meeting you and i can’t wait to read everything that you’re writing and will be writing.