Armchair BEA: Author Interactions


armchairbeaAuthor Interactions

In case you missed it, I’m participating in Armchair BEA (that’s Book Expo America for the uninitiated) this year. I posted a little introduction to myself yesterday in case we have not yet met and chatted (and joked sarcastically, because that’s what I do best). I was extremely lucky and won a prize during last night’s Twitter party (I didn’t know there were going to be prizes when I first decided to participate!) so really, if you need any more incentive to participate in this annual event in the future, there’s a big one. 😉

One of today’s topics is on author interactions. There are so many little sub-topics to this. What is appropriate in author-blogger-reader interactions? Which authors have you interacted with? How? What’s changed since becoming a blogger? I mean really, it’s almost like a little novella of topics and thoughts.

So here’s my short story of my author interactions:

Before Blogging

My interactions with authors were limited to local events I might attend and an occasional comment on Goodreads. My alma mater (and now, current school for graduate studies) has an annual book festival where the likes of Chinua Achebe, Neil Gaiman, Mitch Albom and Stephen King have been guests at. It’s really quite amazing. One year, I volunteered to be an author escort and met Rita Mae Brown, who writes adorable cozies with animals and fox hunting. It was pretty awesome because my mother was able to meet her and they chatted and Ms. Brown even wrote her contact info in the book she was signing in case my mom wanted to go hunting with her Hunt. I also briefly chatted (you know, the awkward moment when an author is signing your book and you’re starstruck and don’t know quite what to say/want to say all the things) with Mitch Albom as he signed The Five People You Meet in Heaven for me.

And because I’ve always been particularly bookish, I worked at a nonprofit that works to develop better English and Creative Writing teachers and encourage creative writing in grade school children. Way back when (okay maybe like…2008? 2009?) we had a guest speaker at the summer camp for eleventh and twelfth graders. I was working, but I’d be lying if I didn’t have my own notebook ready for notes and other writing needs. Maggie Steifvater was the guest speaker. This was before Shiver, when all that she had out were her fairy books. So it was so strange and cool when Maggie became so popular a couple of years later to know that I had already met her! (Confession: I’ve only read The Scorpio Races by her…and loved it!)

I have been benefiting from Goodreads’ giveaways since I joined Goodreads basically. So back in 2010/2011, I won Color Blind by Precious Williams. It was one of my very first advanced reading copies, so it is very memorable for me. I read it, loved it, and wrote an honest review about it. I was absolutely floored when the author liked my review and sent me a message thanking me for my review. Even though that’s a really simple interaction, it is still important enough for me to remember it years later. It was so cool to know that my little reviews on Goodreads could make an author smile. (Though, hopefully, when an honest review is not a happy review I’d like to think that no feelings get hurt.)

As a Blogger

In some ways, my interactions with authors have become a little less organic now that I’m a blogger. Every comment, every interaction seems to have an additional layer to it. Now, instead of just being an excited fan, I worry that I may be crossing some line into ‘obnoxious book blogger’. Do my opinions now hold more weight than they did before? Am I viewed differently as a blogger than a more cyber-silent passionate reader? That said, all the interactions since becoming a blogger are definitely a lot more intense (in a good way) and make me feel so very fortunate.

Twitter of course has been an instrumental tool in either beginning or more so in my case, continuing relationships with authors. I now follow and occasionally exchange tweets with Miranda Kenneally, who I had the pleasure of meeting through the YADC group.  Diana Peterfreund is absolutely approachable and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her at two different local author events. I participated in the 2013 Debut Authors Bash hosted by YA Reads (which I’ve been sooo bad and have forgotten to sign up for this years!) and was paired with Lenore Appelhans. I was so excited because I had just read and loved Level 2 (now The Memory of After). And then as luck would have it, she was able to attend a dinner with the YADC group so I was able to nab a picture with her.

lenoreappelhans

And because I was either foolhardy or extremely fortunate, I was able to attend BEA in person last year and got to meet a ton of authors that I have continued some relationships with. But for those that all I did was snap an awkward picture with, I present you with Cassandra Clare and Nicole “Snookie” Polizzi.

bea snookibea clareThere are others that I saw while getting a book signed (Bill Bryson and Holly Black are two very notable ones for me) but I didn’t snap a picture and neither were they interactions that continued after the ten minute signature.

I was fortunate enough to meet Victoria Schwab while in line for Holly Black’s signing. It was a funny situation because there I am, awkwardly standing in a line by myself, when the person in front of me keeps having people coming up to her and hugging her and talking about her books. I eventually got the courage to speak up and met both Victoria and her Tor editor, Miriam. I grabbed Vicious at her signing later that day and have been a huge Victoria fan since then, going to every local event that she comes to. I was so lucky to attend a dinner with her after one of those events which I still treasure as a memory…I like both want to be her friend and be the rabid fan. It’s a hard line to walk. We took a picture in March that I will go back and edit this post with later today, but here’s the one I grabbed this time last year when I met her:

bea schawbAnd finally, I was so happy to discover Okey Ndibe at BEA last year. The synopsis for Foreign Gods, Inc. captured my attention so I was definitely in line to get a copy and signed by Ndibe. He has been marketed as a colleague of Chinua Achebe (author of Things Fall Apart) and his book was definitely one of my favorite reads. When I told him that I have a book club, he wrote down his email so that I could contact him to meet with our club. He was so sweet and since then, I have been excited when he retweets or favorites my tweets. It’s awesome when you genuinely enjoy a book and honestly want people to discover and enjoy it to see it appreciated by the author.

Sorry for the long post! Apparently my short story wasn’t so short. What about you? Have your interactions changed? How do you meet authors? How do you talk with them?

What do you think?

  • Freda Mans says:

    I actually read Snooki’s book and thought it was cute. Nice interactions though. Thansk for sharing .

  • So jealous you’ve gotten to meet so many of my favorite authors! I’ve always had a thing for Cassandra Clare because I used to follow her back when she wrote Harry Potter fanfiction. Those were the days. :-)

    Brenda @DailyMayo

    • Michelle Michelle says:

      haha see I wish I had started reading her back then. I have only read a couple of stories from her and while I’m not a massive fan of her, I think I would be a larger one if I knew her fan fiction. 😉

  • So jealous you got to be there last year.I wish I lived in a city that authors came to and I could up my interactions.

    • Michelle Michelle says:

      I never really knew how many events there were going on in my area until I started getting clued into the right groups. A lot of libraries have author events, local universities, and small independent bookstores (it seems the small stores have more events than the big chains). Some might require a little bit longer of a drive, but you can be surprised! :)

  • Okey Ndibe says:

    Dear Michelle,

    I treasure what passionate readers like you do to keep literature vital and to keep at bay the long-rumored demise of the book! Thank you, and may your tribe increase!

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