Stephen King was in Wichita Friday night. It was a huge deal (thankfully, I was tucked away in a back corner and didn’t have to deal with the angry people) for which thousands (literally) of people turned out. Was it a great event? For a lot of people, yes. For me? Not so much. We were talking on the way to the event about which authors we’d individually REALLY like to see, ones that we’d go to great lengths to see. Which got me thinking about some of the best author presentations I’ve seen in the past 5 years or so. (As a side note: I really didn’t go see authors before then. A lot of it was little kids, but some of it was I just wasn’t involved that way. That part of my reading experience has changed dramatically with a job at the bookstore.)
I’m defining “best” in an entirely personal way. For me, it’s something I can still remember, even years later,as a fun and rewarding experience.
Eoin Colfer: I’ve never been a big fan of his Artemis Fowl books, but he was coming to the store, and I was curious. I’m SO glad he went; he was hilarious. And entertaining. And completely knew how to work his crowd.
Rick Riordan: Before Stephen King, this was the biggest event I’d been to; it was impressive how many fans were in the room. I wish I had gone to see him before he got really huge because I would have liked to chat with him, or get a picture with him, but this was the way the cards fell. Even so, Riordan knows his crowd, knows how to give a great presentation, and had all of us eating out of the palm of his hand. So, it was okay.
Gabrielle Zevin: I think this one sticks with me mostly because I had seen Kristopher Jansma the night before and he was awful. But, she was lovely. She was interesting, she was funny, she had good things to say, and she interacted with the audience in a way that made us feel welcome and a part of the experience. She was so wonderfully gracious afterward, as well.
And a few author meets through KidlitCon:
Scott Westerfeld (2011) was amazing. His presentation (which I saw twice that year, interestingly enough) was fantastic, he was delightful and kind to all of us (I remember standing in a circle chatting with him and a few other people and thinking to myself, “I’M TALKING WITH SCOTT WESTERFELD!! THIS CAN’T BE REAL!”). I would love to go to another event of his again.
Maggie Stiefvater (2010): Okay, so I didn’t actually take time to meet her, mostly because I was shy and intimidated. BUT, her talk was influential enough that I actually took the time to pick up her books. And became a fan. I’d love a chance to see her again, so I could chat with her and get a picture with her.
Maureen Johnson (2012): Her presentation at KidlitCon was…. weird. But I’m counting this because I made such a fool of myself in front of her at the Austin Teen BookFest in 2011 and I completely (almost) redeemed myself. A group of us stayed after to chat with her and Robin Wasserman and it was a LOT of fun. She’s very much like her online personality: weird, deadpan, and very very funny. And yes, if I ever got a chance to see her again, I’d go.
Mitali Perkins (2014): I didn’t get a picture with Mitali, either, though I did talk to her after her presentation. (I don’t know why I asked. Doh!) I think the main thing about these presentations is that I like people to be organized, and informative about themselves and their writing, and to draw the crowd in. Mitali did all of that and then some. She was gracious and funny and a delight to listen to.
So who are some authors I’d still like to see? Shannon Hale, beyond her floating head, of course. John Green would be a trip and a half. Megan Whalen Turner. Holly Black. Sarah Beth Durst. Anne Ursu. Jonathan Stroud.
Who have you seen that you’ve loved and/or who would you like to see?