Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Close Encounters with Diana Gabaldon

There are only a few authors out there that would make me act like a fool in their presence. I think I’ve well documented in this space my close encounter/possible Wordstock stalking of YA author Maggie Stiefvater. Not one of my prouder moments, but certainly one of the most exciting.

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to see (in the flesh!) and listen to one of the other authors I’d go all gaga over. Author extraordinaire Diana Gabaldon, of the Outlander books, was the keynote speaker at the Willamette Writers Conference gala. I’ve been reading and loving her books for twenty years and such an opportunity could not be missed.

Having experienced my Stiefvater moment, I prepared myself before attending the gala. Not that there would be a chance to actually meet her, after all this was a large ballroom full of people, and she would be far away on a stage. But just on the off chance I told myself I would NOT be interacting with Ms. Gabaldon. Didn’t want to embarrass myself.

Yeah. Right. That lasted about two seconds. But it wasn’t my fault that she walked right past my table when she entered the room, and sat at the table kitty-corner from mine. I was with two dear friends, and when I saw her I became flustered, and did a “oh my god, look it’s her!” as I watched her walk by with my jaw dropped. Dear woman, she saw me, and my total dorkiness, and smiled at me and said “Hi.” If I wasn’t already a superfan, I would have become one at that moment.

I won’t tell you how my friends and I rarely took our eyes from her as we ate our dinner and listened to awards being handed out.

As exciting as it was to see her, her speech was the true highlight of the evening. Her insights into the craft, her particular writing process, her words of encouragement for new writers, all was inspiring. I left wishing I had taken notes—she had so many valuable things to share.

Later in the evening, after she had signed books, I left the bar where my friends and I were having an after-gala drink, and happened to see her sitting at the book signing table without anyone left waiting in line. I considered walking over and telling her how much I enjoyed her books, but with the fear of becoming a rambling idiot I chose to leave well enough alone. Now, I’m wishing I had. Yes, I might have been that inarticulate fan, but I think every author—even a megastar—likes hearing that his or her work is appreciated.

Maybe next time I’ll practice what I’ll say, so that I can be articulate. But even if I didn’t want to risk it this time, something tells me Diana Gabaldon knew that the crazy woman in the audience loved her work!

Note: I’ve been waiting forever for Outlander to become a movie or TV series, and finally there is one, premiering on STARZ, August 9th. I will be reviewing each episode on this blog. My plan is to post on the Tuesday following each Saturday episode. If you are an Outlander fan stop by, and I hope everyone will comment with their thoughts on the show as well.

Happy Writing!

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