To lure schooly types (parents, teachers, librarians) to a bookstore event last month, I raffled off a free author visit. As you may recall, a mom bringing a neighborhood full of spirited middle-school girls won the drawing, and on Monday, I got to make good on my promise at Scribner Middle School.
I’m sorry for anyone who did not win, but I am glad that Scribner did, because not only is their auditorium gorgeous, their teachers organized, and their kids an ideal audience, but they made 250 kids available to come hear me speak! Thank goodness I was a teacher before I was an author, because this was a big crowd, y’all. The pictures tell the story best, so I’ll let them do it…
Okay, obviously, there was no paranormal element to the proceedings. The blurriness is a result of the fact that I hate the way the flash affects digital pictures and always turn it off, and then other people have to suffer through my poor choices when they kindly take the camera (thank you, Ms. Thompson!) I’d like to think it lends a cool effect, at least.
One fun thing about the visit was that Ms. Thompson, who organized it, encouraged me to talk about my own experiences with niceness and meanness, and I did, in a more forthcoming way than I have before. The most meaningful part for me, and I think for the students as well, if I’m any good at reading a room, was when I talked about the only time I remembered anyone standing up to me for the way I tried to run the show. I’ll tell that story some other time, some other place, but I think it was as much of a “Wow” moment for them as it was for me back in ninth grade that somebody could be brave enough to say, “I know I have no control over what you do, but what you’re doing is hurting me, and I wish that you would stop.”
Another great element of the visit was the questions, and my favorite happened to be the last one: “You know when books–not yours, maybe, but other ones–have, like, handwriting in them? How do they do that?” I explained that there are more fonts in the world than your Microsoft Word can even dream of, and publishers look for the ones that best fit the character. The girl seemed to like this explanation, and I liked the question because it so exactly spoke to what kids really care about: the nuts-and-bolts of the physical book that they interact with. Never mind this mush about what inspired you, the boring adult author. What’s the deal with the book in my hand? I hope to do more school visits so I can keep bringing on the ghosts and connect with the kiddos.
Thanks, Scribner, for your extensive awesomeness! Oh, and ps, thanks for telling your kids that if they couldn’t buy books, I would sign their planners! I think that might be an all-time career high.