At BEA last week, the BookPage team got to meet a number of notable people. Actor Zach Braff and his brother, author Joshua Braff. Justin Cronin (The Passage), Gail Caldwell (Let’s Take the Long Way Home), Joshilyn Jackson (Backseat Saints) and Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games). I silently swooned as Trisha and I found ourselves in a hotel elevator with Cory Monteith, star of Glee and total dreamboat. But the crowning glory of the celebrity-spotting week—at least for me—came on Thursday afternoon.
Trisha and I were walking around the Javitz Center, making our way back to the BookPage booth, when I saw him: Pat Conroy, my favorite author, deep in conversation with someone I didn't recognize. Trisha can attest that she has never seen such a high-level freak out from me. I literally stopped in my tracks, paced, stared and obsessed over what to do. Would I go say hi? Would I just watch from afar like a crazy person? Would I pass out? Finally Trisha just told me if I had this chance and didn’t say something, I would regret it forever. So I took a deep breath, walked over and opened with, “I’m so sorry to interrupt, but you’re my favorite author, and I just had to come say hi.”
Mr. Conroy smiled, took my hand and said, “Well, thank you so much. Now, what’s your name, darling?” We chatted briefly about his novels, Charleston and how he plans to keep writing as long as people keep reading. His southern drawl was everything I hoped it would be, and I was thrilled—and honored—that someone of his literary stature would take time out of his day to talk with a fan. I thought I loved Pat Conroy before. And now I know it’s the real deal.
Have you gotten the chance to meet your favorite author? If you did, what would you say?
This weekend marked my first BEA experience—and even though reports indicated that attendance was down from past years, you wouldn’t have known it on Friday afternoon at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. The place was absolutely packed and MiChelle and I worried that we might not make it to the BookPage booth with our rolling suitcases, since we headed right from LaGuardia airport to the show (apologies to the several people I inadvertently rolled over).
We did make it to the booth, and we had a great weekend. A lot of interesting people stopped by to say hi, to tell us what they liked about BookPage and to learn more about us. I had a great time meeting with publicists at the various publishing houses to hear about their Fall fiction lists, and I’m really excited to share some great new novels with our readers.
The only disappointment would have to be the lack of galleys available for pickup—or at least that’s how it seemed to me. I heard that in past years BookPage staffers came back with entire suitcases filled with advance reading copies; this year the galleys seemed few and far between. But there were two notable exceptions: Roses by Leila Meacham (on sale in January 2010) and Stardust by Joseph Kanon (on sale in late September).
Grand Central publicists tell me everyone is really excited about Roses, an epic saga that spans the 20th century in a small East Texas town and is being compared to The Thorn Birds. Joseph Kanon was at the Atria booth signing copies of his latest, Stardust, and I was lucky enough to get one inscribed to my Dad! This novel is being pitched as a tale of Hollywood glamour, post-war espionage and family secrets, and Kanon is best known as the author of The Good German.
Once I recover from the weekend, I’m looking forward to digging into both of these novels. Hopefully they will live up to the hype!