Hoops, Reading, Signing, Talking

I’m finally back in New York City. My brain has at last caught up with my body. This weekend we went to the first Liberty game of the season. Well, okay, not first of the season because the season proper doesn’t start for a week or two. First game of the pre-season. (Nope, this stuff doesn’t makes any sense to me either.) The Liberty played great. Up against last year’s WNBA champions, the Seattle Storm, we won! And we didn’t just win, we did it convincingly, spending most of the game at least five points ahead. They were a gazillion inches taller than us, totally outrebounded us, and we won the game with solid defence. Happiness. (No, I don’t care that it was only a pre-season game and thus doesn’t count.)

The Artemis Fowl and Co. ("Co." being me and Scott) event was fab. Its fabulousness was clear from the very beginning when the praise monster (all hail!) manifested itself in the form of Peter Glassman, the owner of Books of Wonder, who greeted me with the most amazingly effusive gush about my book, which he was three-quarters of the way through reading. I caught the words "brilliant" and "writing" in close proximity to each other. Blush.

The event consisted of me and Scott doing a short reading from Magic or Madness and Midnighters 1: The Secret Hour respectively. I read the scene where Reason steps through the door from the summer of Sydney to the winter of New York City and sees snow for the first time; Scott read the scene from the first Midnighters book where Jessica discovers the blue time and rain for the first time. We hadn’t planned to read such similar scenes. Actually until we read them out loud side by side we hadn’t realised they were similar. (For those wondering, that would be me plagiarising Scott.)

Eoin Colfer didn’t read from any of his books, instead he told a very funny story about why you shouldn’t tease six year olds, even if they do have big heads, not all their teeth, and in their swimming goggles resemble Golem from Lord of the Rings. He also explained in detail how "hurling" and "jumper" don’t mean the same thing in Ireland as they do in the US. This gave me an excellent later segue to promote my book as educational because it has a glossary of Australian English at the back.

Next there was Q & A. All the questions but one were asked by the actual demographic of our books. This was very exciting for me because I spend a great deal of time thinking and talking about children’s and young adult literature, but almost always with adults, hardly ever with the people for whom it is written. My first and only question was the first asked: "Is there really no snow in Australia?" To which I answered that yes there is, just not a lot, and mostly in places like the Snowy Mountains and Tasmania. It’s very easy to grow up in Australia without ever seeing it.

Scott’s one question came towards the end, "When is the third Midnighters book coming out?" You’ll find the answer here. All the other questions were for Eoin and they were all asked by kids (mostly boys) who displayed an intimate knowledge of his books and a huge thirst for more: there were many variations on the when-is-the-next-book-coming-out and will-there-be-more-books-in-the-series questions. For a writer those are very sweet indeed.

After the questions were all asked, the astoundingly large audience (given that it was mother’s day) formed a very long queue and we signed lots and lots of books. This was a big surprise because frankly I was expecting to sign at most four or five books (for my friends who came: Hey Liesa! Hey Eloise! Hey Tui! Hey Barry! Hey Will & Alice!), but for over an hour there was a steady trickle of people I didn’t know who wanted me to sign for them. Astounding! Wonderful! Happy making! Most of my signees were girls who looked incredibly young—twelve at the very most. One of them had already started reading my book and was impatient for me to hurry up and sign it so she could get back to reading. Happy sigh.

Next to me all the Midnighters fans had emerged to get Scott to sign their books and ask why they had to wait such a long, long, long, time for the next Midnighters book? And why were there only going to be three books? Scott was able to placate them by pointing to Uglies, and So Yesterday as possible substitutes while they waited.

Eoin (turns out it’s pronounced "Owen" not "Ian" as I had guessed—oops!) Colfer signed and signed and signed and signed. He was charming, entertaining, and wonderful with his fans, spending time chatting to every single one. There were a lot of them and most seemed to have every book he’d ever written, held in teetering stacks supported only by their small, wee, tiny, little hands. In fact, one kid came up to Scott and me after having his mountainous pile of Colfer books signed: he let out a weary sigh, slid our books onto the table, asked that we sign in exhausted tones, and explained that his back hurt from carrying so many books.

Quite a few of the kids who’d come to see Eoin Colfer also wound up buying Scott’s and my books. When the event was over we gave Peter a list of all the other writers we’d be more than happy to do an event with: Diana Wynne-Jones, Ursula Le Guin, Garth Nix, Phillip Pullman, J. K. Rowling, Jonathan Stroud etc. etc.

In the pauses between people wanting me to sign, I signed for Books of Wonder. First the lovely staff brought about thirty books, which I duly signed. Then they took those away and brought thirty more, which I also signed, expressing surprise at how many there were. "Oh," Sarah said, "these are the mail-order books. There are plenty more. We haven’t even got up to the store stock yet. I love your book, we’ve been handselling it like you wouldn’t believe." Were ever sweeter words heard from the mouth of a bookseller? A brief pause while yours truly blushed, coughed, and thanked Sarah profusely, then returned to signing. I have never signed so many books in my life. I loved it!

Another huge thrill was meeting Cassandra Claire. She’s just gotten a big, prestigious, three-book deal, agented by Barry Goldblatt, but much more importantly Cassie is the author of The Secret Diary of Aragorn Son Of Arathorn (and other secret diaries) which was circulating all over the internet a few years back and completely cracked me up every time someone sent it to me, which they did a lot. It continues to crack me up every time I think of the phrase "still not king". It was grouse being able to thank her in person and to sign a copy of Magic or Madness for her. Cassie Claire bought my book!

Oh, and Eoin Colfer showed me the worm in his eye ball which is exquisitely gross. I want one too!

It were a good weekend.

New York City, 9 May 2005