Then we went backstage to the V.I.P. room and were like giddy fans, surrounded by so many big-named authors. Mo Willems! Jon Scieszka! T.C. Boyle! Mary Higgins Clark! We ate as many cheese squares and fruit wedges as fast as we could in case anyone suddenly decided we weren't cool enough to be back there.
Then we met a bunch of L.A. writers of teen lit. in the Angeleno hotel, which gave an amazing view of the city at night. We followed that by having dinner with Robin Benway, debut author of Audrey, Wait!...which has quickly added itself as one of my favorite books. Don't wait! Go out and get it!!!
Of course, when we're in L.A., we just have to pretend like we're from The City and go out dancin'. (Sidenote: Eve's allergy pills made her so drowsy, she had to sit out most of the songs, which is why she's not in this photo...and it took about 85 photos for her to get even one where Robin and I look only partially goofy.)
Back at the Festival the next day, I got to meet Sherman Alexie, author of the National Book Award winning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. This was an especially fun first-meeting because Mr. Alexie recently wrote a blurb for the paperback edition of Thirteen Reasons Why, which you can read at the bottom of this post.
After signing books for an hour with Ms. Benway, we headed to our panel on teen literature. As the room started to fill up, I began to get insanely nervous. I expected our panel to barely sell-out a small classroom...not a whole lecture hall! This photo doesn't even show the two side-sections of seats.
Along with Ms. Benway, I was joined by Cecil Castellucci and Michele Serros. The three of them were so articulate and thoughtful, part of me wanted to just sit in the audience and watch. But it was a lot of fun...and quite an honor...to be up there with them!
Thirteen Reasons Why is a mystery, eulogy, and ceremony. Twenty or thirty times, I snapped the book shut when a sentence, an image, or line of dialogue was too beautiful and painful. But I, afraid and curious, would always return to this amazing book. I know, in the years to come, I will often return to this book.
- Sherman Alexie