When You SHOULD Meet Your Heroes
You know what they say: don't meet your heroes. I never understood why that was a thing until I became an adult and heard story after story of a friend or a friend of a friend meeting a famous writer, actor, or musician, only to be cussed at, turned away, or painfully ignored. Yikes. That's tough. That kind of experience can really jade a person.
But something else I've learned as an adult is context is everything. You might've caught that famous person on an off day, or on a downright terrible day. Because that famous person is just, ultimately, a person.
So when is the best time to meet one's hero? The answer is simple but difficult to enact: in the right context.
I think meeting a fellow writer is a bit different. We aren't as recognizable as actors or musicians, and the writing community is fairly inclusive. However, let me give you the winning context in which you should meet your author hero: at a book signing!
At an author signing, the author is ready to meet you, ready to talk shop, and happy to hear why you named your cat after their antagonist. Let's face it, the majority of us are introverts, and it takes some serious pep-talkin' in the mirror before addressing a crowd (even a small crowd) of people. When you meet an author at an author event, they have summoned the gumption to meet a large volume of people, field questions, and talk about something deeply important to them: their work!
Well-structured author events are a dream come true not only for the authors, but for the readers as well. That's why my neighbor, friend, and fellow writer Shannon Fox and I jumped on the opportunity to attend the Epic Reads and Barnes and Noble author meet and greet on Monday, September 16th in San Diego. The B&N staff split the crowd into four groups, and each group occupied a corner of the Nook section. The authors would rotate stations after 15 minutes, pitch us their books, then answer any questions we had. This event featured:
Kendare Blake, author of the bestselling Three Dark Crowns series. (Please note the Nic Cage shirt she wore.) I found Kendare hilarious, and an absolutely-must-meet-in-person author. Seriously. If you get the chance to meet her or go to one of her events, you won't regret it. She's passionate about her stories, loves her characters just as much as her fans do, and shares her inspiration for her characters. Spoiler: the idea for the Three Dark Crowns series came from bees (so apt she wore that Nic Cage shirt. BEEEEEEES!!!)
Sara Raasch, author of the Snow Like Ashes and Stream Raiders series. I loved Sara's excited energy as she told us about her books and her writing process. Sara's heavy into pre-writing research, and some of her research books sounded fascinating (like an encyclopedia of demons -- awesome)! She also told us new writers that once you get your agent or your first contract, that's not the end of your journey as a writer. You haven't "made it." You'll still hear "no" from publishers, and you just have to continue and persevere. Truly inspirational!
Rena Barron, author of Kingdom of Souls. Funny enough, the day after we met Rena, she announced on social media that Kingdom of Souls would be made into movie by none other than actor Michael B. Jordan! Huge news and a HUGE congratulations to Rena! I loved listening to Rena's passion for her book. She grew up in a farm in Alabama and felt estranged from her West African roots. Learning more about her heritage gave her the idea to write Kingdom of Souls. She urged aspiring writers to read widely. She confessed she read mostly Dean Koontz growing up, and reading more widely helped her figure out where her writing fit into the market.
Shelby Mahurin, author of Serpent & Dove. First, Google this book cover! It's breathtaking. Shelby spoke about some of the unconventional scenes in her book, especially for the YA genre. She said she saw a hole in the market for books that explored sexuality, and were sex-positive. When I asked Shelby what her advice would be for new writers, she said the main thing she tells new writers is to finish writing a book. Everyone wants to write a book, she explained, but you need to have the experience of finishing one under your belt.
I can't say enough good things about this event. There were between 60-75 people attending the meet and greet, and the Mira Mesa B&N staff organized us into groups seamlessly. The authors kept the conversations going in our small groups, and once we spent an hour with the four authors, we lined up to get our books signed, which also went smoothly.
Being an introvert myself (of course I am), I hadn't been to too many author events, and this was my first event outside of a comic-con where it was a multi-author signing. And I have to say, after this event, I'm itching to go to more. :)
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