Today Maggie Stiefvater visited the Oshawa Chapters location. I found out via Twitter, half an hour before the event, and turned puppy dog eyes on Husband and Daughter. “Can we go? Can we, can we, can we?”
I loved Shiver. And after Linger, I was on edge, waiting for the third book to come out. I have it on my shelf now and will probably start reading it next week. I love this woman’s characters, and I think she’s an extremely talented writer. I ran out to see her like I would run out to see Holly Black, and that’s saying something.
So please keep that in mind when I say that the whole thing left me feeling… uneasy.
The stage was my first clue that something different was going on. I’ve been to lots of signings and book launches before, even ones at Chapters. There’s never been a stage. And there was loud music. Rev-up-the-crowd type music.
The rows of folding chairs were filled, so I joined the leftover people standing at the back. The crowd was mostly female and largely older teens, but there were enough adults there that I didn’t feel too out of place. Not like the beleaguered-looking husbands who kept glancing around to make sure no one saw them standing in the estrogen crowd. (I released Husband and Daughter to another part of the store.)
Maggie was wonderful. Entertaining and funny, friendly and seemingly perfectly comfortable in front of the crowd. She told funny stories about her book tours and got us all laughing. She talked a little about her book, but mostly about “life of an author” type stuff (you know — the phone calls on airplanes about hitting the NYT bestseller list; the visits to wolf sanctuaries in Hungary; everyday things).
But that was when my stomach started dropping. Because she was up there and entertaining and wonderful for a solid twenty or thirty minutes; just like a stand-up comedian, only classier. And while in theory it was about the books, really it was about her. She was a Personality. A really wonderful, charming, interesting one.
For me, that’s the scary part. I could never pull that off. Talk about the writing process? Sure! Just try and shut me up. I love that stuff. Talk about books? Absolutely, especially if they’re someone else’s books. I’ll happily do school visits; it’s not that far off from teaching, and besides, I can keep the focus on the writing process. But to get up there and just… be?
It left me thinking about a few months ago, when I saw Sarah McLachlan in concert and was amazed by how warm and personal and just plain brilliant at the the whole thing she was. Not just the singing. The in-between parts, too. Pure, polished, professional showmanship.
Now, let’s face it. I’m not exactly in danger of going on tour. The NYT Bestseller list is, thus far, not a going concern in my life. I’m still at that point in my career where I aspire to the midlist. I’m okay with that; I’m learning.
Next spring I’ll have two books coming out; I’m thinking of getting in touch with independent booksellers within about a two-hour radius of my house and seeing if I can put together some kind of an event schedule. Maybe little free seminars, maybe signings. And at those events, there will probably be a small table and me, and maybe one or two friends if I happen to know people in town. I’ll bring candy to bribe people to come close. I’ll smile at them and hand out bookmarks. And for me, that’s good. That’s practice. That’s success.
Or I thought it was.
Don’t get me wrong, Maggie was amazing. Friendly and gracious and funny. I’m glad I went, and I look forward to reading the third book in her trilogy. Even more so, now that I’ve heard her talk about it a little bit.
But this was my first glimpse of Writer as Rock Star, and I think it scared me a little.