Last week the gigantic Book Expo America took place at the triple football stadium-sized Javits Center in New York City. It’s where the booksellers go to see what’s coming out, get the skinny on what’s going to be hot, and hobnob with the cool kids (aka bestseller writers).
For the art auction/cocktail party last Wednesday, king and queen of the kidlit cool kids, authors Michael Buckley and Shannon Hale, had a great idea to have talent show (some called it “Talent Show” complete with air quotes, but I actually practiced my juggling for my part in the Tom Angleberger ragtag juggling troupe, so I do <em>not</em> use air quotes). Anyway, my ego was disproportionately flattered that Michael and Shannon invitedmesaidyeswhenIforcedthemtohaveme in the show. So I was incredibly disappointed I had to miss it due to the fact that my back has been in spasm for about 2.5 weeks and I can barely walk.
Saturday rolls around and I’ve got my first professional event (as opposed to a public) signing for Dancing With the Devil. I hobble in with a heinous back support brace on, sit in my chair, and start signing books, and things are going well.
Then comes this adorable teenager, Sarabeth––maybe 16 or 17-years-old? Her body language says it all: elbows close in to her sides, bouncing up on the balls of her feet, barely able to contain herself. There was a big stack of my books for me to sign––and give away––to people, but she hands me a copy, a little worn, and says, “I already have my own copy. I’ve read it four times!”
Mind you, it only just came out. Her eyes are gleaming. She’s smiling, and saying how I’m her favorite author. I’m getting a lump in my throat just thinking about this moment. Nine years to write Dancing With the Devil
And this is what those rewrites were for. This moment that this girl, Sarabeth gave me. If it never happens again, this was worth it, for this one kid who loves this book that she read it four times.
I got choked up then, too, of course, and very excited, as I popped up, forgetting about my back pain – brace? What brace? And as you can see, I’ve got my super fan Sarabeth in the Superfan death grip, below poor kid. After she left, every person who was on the line who witnessed what happened commented on what a special moment it was.
Why do super fans mean so much? If you’re a writer, and you wonder whether you should continue working on your book, remember Sarabeth. Someday you too will get to terrify a kid in the Superfan death grip of appreciation.
What do you think – you tell me why super fans mean so much. Have you met a super fan? What happened?