I’ve been very lucky in the past month or so to have the opportunity to meet with two authors that I admire: V.E. Schwab, the author of Vicious and the A Darker Shade of Magic series, and Marissa Meyer, author of The Lunar Chronicles series. Meeting an author is more than simply an opportunity to get your books signed and pose for a photo–which I definitely do, but these things don’t represent the total value.
To me, the most valuable thing about meeting authors I admire is perspective. Even if you interact with an author online, getting to meet them in person confirms that they are a flesh-and-blood person and not a magical-goddess-robot-writing machine (though they may also be that. Who knows.).
But seriously: meeting an author not only puts their writing into perspective, but also your own. Every time I meet an author I go home feeling inspired and reinvigorated to keep writing.
For one thing, authors often talk about their origin stories–at V.E. Schwab’s signing in Huntington Beach last month, with Gretchen McNeil and Marie Lu, the three authors dedicated an entire segment of the panel to their origin story. They discussed not only the origins of their characters and stories but also their publishing journeys, and all the sweat and blood and tears that go into the arduous, lengthy process. This is all about perspective–it gives context to the wonderful book you hold in your hands, and it reminds you that one day your random word vomit might also be a wonderful book.
I always leave author events running through all the imaginary panels I might one day be on through my head. What will I tell budding writers about the writing process? About the misery and pain it takes to create long form fiction? What will my signature look like? What will my origin story be?
With the internet, published and aspiring writers can interact easier than ever. I follow most of my favorite writers on Twitter, and often we might exchange a few words together. How invigorating it is! How amazing it feels when one of your favorite authors likes a tweet you sent them, or one that you simply mentioned them in. To put your heroes on a pedestal far above you, but to have them reach down and touch you in the smallest ways. It makes a difference.
I have a slew of events planned this spring where I will have the opportunity to meet many more authors and creative people. I’ll be attending the annual AWP conference, the LA Times Festival of Books, and YALLWEST. But no matter how many times I get to meet authors I’m still always excited about it. My pulse quickens and I can’t help but fangirl a little bit once I lay eyes on them in real life. When it comes to your heroes, you really can’t meet them enough.
At a recent signing I attended, I saw a girl bring a book up to Andrew Smith to get signed. He’d already signed it the last time she’d seen him, but she wanted him to sign it again. One signature is a stamp in time: it’s “that one time I met the author and it was awesome.” But two signatures creates a new temporality, one that’s a constant exchange between author and reader, one that says, “I care enough about you and your work to come back again and again.” I hope I have that experience myself someday.