The Biggest Dork in the Room is (you guessed it) ME

Every once in a while we all make fools of ourselves, don’t we? Don’t we? Please someone tell me I’m not the only one who meets a beloved author and acts like a dopey fan. I am comforted to know that at least I was being my authentic self. I am, in fact, a dopey fan. So if that’s annoying to an author, well at least they were annoyed by the real me. 

That’s Gary Schmidt standing in the middle of my photo. I just finished his “What Came From the Stars,” and “Okay for Now” is on my list of best books ever written. My brother and I read these together and then text back and forth about how blown away we are. I don’t think we get much more specific than that … we don’t need to. We’ve been reading together for decades, so we’ve developed our own kind of literary shorthand. 

So maybe I gushed a little bit about his books. They mean that much to me. Schmidt, for his part, was gracious and thoughtful and a comforting conversationalist. At least I didn’t hug him or anything weird like that. Yet. 

That’s Lisa Yee on the right. She carries a cloth Peep with her wherever she goes and has photographed it with a who’s who list of famous authors. You might know her as the author of the American Girl Kanani book series, which is excellent. But what no one I have met around here knows (except for the librarians … they know all) Lisa is a well-known children’s author for a host of other very cool and highly praised middle grade and YA titles. Yeah. She’s a big deal. And the first thing I did when I saw her is ask to see Peepy, as if Peepy penned Stanford Wong and Millicent Min. She kindly said she’s used to that.

Dork. That’s me. 

The gentleman on the left is this guy who kept following the children’s authors around hoping he could carry their luggage or something … I’M KIDDING. That’s Will Hermes, senior critic for Rolling Stone and author of “Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Writing About New York City Music in the 1970s.” At least I think that’s Will Hermes. I could be totally wrong about that. I kept ignoring him to fawn over Schmidt and Yee because I am a kid lit junky. At one point Humanities Council head honcho Sherry DeBoer flashed me a look that said, ‘please stop insulting our famous authors. You are embarrassing yourself.’ 

Sherry didn’t really do that. She’s too nice. Also she was too tired to notice.

Funny thing is, I’m a big time introvert. But tonight I met some rock stars and now I just have to hope that something intelligent fell out of my mouth at some point in the evening.  I’m guessing they expect that. Because if I were an author and some strange reader came up to me in South Dakota and spouted completely incoherent gibberish, you know what I would do? 

I would thank her for reading. And I would forgive her. 

She did the best she could. 

Gary Schmidt: Writing for Young Readers: Why is it So Important to Us All? Saturday, 11 to 11:45, Siouxland Libraries, Main, Meeting Room A. 

Lisa Yee: Warp Speed! Saturday, 3 to 3:45 p.m. Main Library Meeting Room A

 and American Girl Tea Party, Saturday Noon to 1:30, Holiday Inn Starlite Room. $15. 

Will Hermes: Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Writing About New York City Music in the 1970s, Saturday, Orpheum Main Theater