Monday, October 7, 2013

On Meeting My Literary Idol

Two years ago this month I attended my first ever Wordstock convention. For those of you outside of the Portland area, it is a reading and writing extravaganza with scores of wonderful authors speaking and/or reading, and loads of great writing workshops to choose from. For me, that first Wordstock experience was especially momentous because that was where I discovered the multi-talented YA author/musician/composer/artist/race car driver/goat keeper, Maggie Stiefvater. If you haven’t read my post on my absolute adoration of Maggie you may want to read it/skim it/glance over it before reading further. (click here) Her talent simply blows me away.

Fast forward two years—Maggie is back at Wordstock, as a part of her book tour for her latest book, THE DREAM THIEVES. This year I took a family friend/former student, 13 year old G. (We’ll just call her G. here.) I couldn’t wait for her to hear the always humorous and delightful Maggie. I bought her a copy of SHIVER, which was where I began my reading of all things Stiefvater. We had time to attend several other presentations, because Maggie’s panel was the last one of the day. As the time approached G. and I switched roles: I became the 13 year old fangirl who was spazzing out, and she became the poised, responsible adult. About an hour before The Maggie Hour, we happened to see her walking around the convention and I just about lost it. G., however was a little surprised by the object of my adoration. G. knows me as the ever proper teacher, and when she saw Maggie in her usual high-top Doc Martens, ripped jeans, and short black leather jacket, she gave me a LOOK. It said, “Really, Mrs. K., YOU are crazy about an author who looks kind of edgy?” YES, G. I AM!!

The time finally arrived for the panel. Maggie worked her usual magic, and G. was entranced. Then Maggie told the story that is the reason I’m writing this blog post. She told about the time about a year ago or so, when she met her literary idol, Susan Cooper. Maggie had adored her since forever and the idea of meeting her idol made her a little crazy. She envisioned how it was going to work: she’d put out her hand and give Ms. Cooper a warm handshake, and proceed to tell her what an influence she’d been on her. The moment arrived—she was standing before her idol. But her hand didn’t reach out to give Susan Cooper that warm handshake—no she froze. Maggie’s hands were in fists, up by her chest and she was just GAH!! She ended the story there, but I’m quite sure the rest of the exchange went very well. She is Maggie Stiefvater, after all.

Twenty minutes later I had my own Susan Cooper moment when I got to meet Maggie. God bless G., she decided she had to get her new book signed, so she rushed to the line for Maggie. We waited patiently, while I began to feel increasingly ill at the prospect of actually speaking to my idol. It was our turn! And it was perfect. G. and Maggie and I chatted and laughed—I got to ask a question I’ve been dying to know the answer to—and Maggie was as warm and delightful as could be. I didn’t freeze up. I didn’t faint. I just had a fantastic, memorable moment with my literary idol. Thank you G for making sure that happened!!

Epilogue: It was quite the day for meeting authors you adore. Earlier in the day G. and I saw another favorite YA author of mine, Portlander Laini Taylor, walking through the exhibits. After politely asking if having hordes of people approach her disturbs her we had a lovely conversation during which I calmly and articulately told her how much I admire her work. She was adorable and very gracious.

A fabulous, memorable day at Wordstock. Thank you Maggie and Laini! And G.!


  1. I felt the same way when I met my idol, Jayne Ann Krentz. I sat next to her at dinner and I was so nervous I could barely speak. I must have appeared like a total lump, but I didn't care. She was delightful and friendly. It was a memorable evening. I'm glad you got to meet your idol and that "G" was such a wonderful buffer :-)

  2. Oh my, you had an entire dinner to sit through while you tried to keep it together! My hat's off to you Kylie. I only had a few short minutes, and that was almost more than I could handle.

    And yes, it wouldn't have happened without "G".

    Thank you for sharing your story!

  3. The main reason I attended my first RWA conference in Denver, CO was Teresa Medeiros was the keynote speaker. I volunteered to work the cash register for literacy sales and signings. Towards the end of the evening I looked up to find my next customer was Teresa Medeiros!! I stuttered...I said OMG! I felt like a fool but told her the reason I came to conference was to listen to her, I told her I bought all her books and brought them to conference. She was very gracious and said if I saw her during conference she'd be delighted to sign my books . And she said please come up and say hi and we can talk if I saw her anywhere. Unfortunately, I didn't see her again. That conference was my most memorable one.

  4. Oh Diana, I love your story! It sounds like you handled yourself very well. And she sounds like a lovely, gracious woman. What a wonderful memory you have to treasure always.

  5. G enjoyed her day immensely. It's always good to act mature as a teen when the adults around you are being completely embarrassing!

  6. Ha Ha! So happy G had a fun time--so SORRY the adult was completely embarrassing! The good thing is she won't soon forget it. ;-)