This past weekend, Scholastic sent me to Hollywood for the annual trade show of the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association, where I got to meet lots of book-loving people, and had a wonderful time.
The night before the trade show, I went out to eat with my publicist, Lauren, and Roz, the Scholastic sales rep for the Southern California area. (Though her territory includes much more than Southern California. She gets to go to Hawaii on business!) Dinner was delicious, and the restaurant was decked out in cobwebs and spooky candles for Halloween. I think Lauren referred to the style as “haunted bordello” or something like that. Over our meal we talked a bit about my presentation, and afterward we walked back to the hotel, trodding upon the Hollywood stars (not the people, the pieces of cement). As we walked, Roz commented on the placement of certain stars, and how some of them are kind of off to the side all by their lonesome. Then Lauren pointed out that Dean Martin’s star now sits in front of a lingerie store, and we all agreed that Dean would likely have approved of women seeing his name and thinking of him as they go to buy their intimates.
We went back to the hotel, and as I walked to my room I noticed that each of the room-number plaques also featured a welcoming picture in silouette. Like a hand holding a doorkey, or a champaign glass. Well, this was the picture by my door…
…and it made me kind of vaguely nervous the first time I opened it.
The next day, I gave my speech. I talked a bit about the books and the bookstores that have been important to me while growing up and moving around with the military. And then I talked a bit about The Clockwork Three. I think it went pretty well. Fellow Utah author Ally Condie also spoke, and talked about choice and the role it plays in her new novel, Matched. We shared the stage with several other authors, including Al Yankovic. Yes, the “weird” one, but for his new picture book, he’s just Al. Did you know that guy has sold, like, 12 million albums? I remember listening to him as a kid, and if you had told me a couple of years ago that I would one day meet and speak on the same stage as Weird Al, I would probably have told you that you’d listened to “White and Nerdy” one too many times. But nevertheless…
After the lunch, there was a signing, and Ally Condie and I shared a table and signed a lot of books.
Then the trade show started and I went to see Roz at the Scholastic booth, only to find Kazu Kibuishi there. I’ve known of Kazu’s work as editor and contributor to the Flight comics anthologies, which are amazing, but more recently I’ve come to love his Amulet series of graphic novels for Scholastic. If you haven’t read them, you should seek them out. At any rate, I started talking with him about his books, and we had a great conversation about what he’s trying to achieve with them (and succeeding very well, if you ask me) which then turned into a conversation about story in general. At some point I walked away to get a drink, and when I returned, Kazu was holding The Clockwork Three.
“This is you,” he said.
“Yes, it is,” I said.
I guess while I had been gone, he had picked up my book and said to Roz, “This author has the same name as that guy I was just talking to.”
To which Roz had said, “No, that guy was the author.”
I had been so excited to meet Kazu, I hadn’t even introduced myself. So when I came back, we all kind of chuckled about it. And then we continued our conversation, during the course of which Kazu’s interpretation of the Pixar film Ratatouille shifted the way I’ve been thinking about a future project of mine for the better. So thanks to him for that. We signed each other’s books, and he left to go to a dinner.
Kazu Kibuishi and me.
Roz, me, and Lauren
Then Lauren and I went to eat dinner at this place that served really amazing hamburgers. Now, people who know me know how much I love hamburgers, so apparently Lauren knows me well. Having worked in Hollywood for a film studio, Lauren also gave me a guided tour of Hollywood, past Grauman’s Chinese Theater…
…where I snapped this photo, because I’m kind of nerdy like that:
The next day, I flew home. It was a great weekend, and I owe a big thanks to Lauren and Roz for taking such good care of me. If you’re interested, Publishers Weekly has a write-up on the event that you can read here.