Today’s Tuesday Top Ten List is technically supposed to be “10 Authors I Would Like to Meet” — only, nope. Wouldn’t do that. Because … of … I don’t even … No.
Standing in a signing line, walking up to someone whose work has affected me in any significant capacity, saying sentences to them, remembering my name long enough to repeat it, watching them write my name down, trying to come up with any amount of small talk that isn’t “BLARH ARGH BLAH BOOKS, THOUGH, YOU’RE GOOD AT THEM” is way too intimidating for me to even consider as a possible actual reality.
(I don’t know WHY, exactly. I guess this is a combination of social anxiety, fear of humiliation, fear of saying something ridiculous, fear of standing in lines (???), fear of forgetting my name, fear of making eye contact, fear of expressing to another person my feelings — there’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s just leave this emotional baggage firmly padlocked and crammed into the back of the storage closet, shall we? I’d rather pretend to be utterly unaffected than to melt into a puddle of feelings, apparently.)
So, the point is, instead of listing authors I’d like to meet, I’ll list authors whose work I care about too much to actually make eye contact with them:
1. JK Rowling — Well, this one is an obvious, definite no. This woman shaped my adolescence, inspired me to start writing my own fantasy series, and actually introduced me to my best friend (as well as TONS of amazing internet friends I never would’ve met otherwise). Plus … I’m a little scared of what I would say if I did meet her? I feel like I’d open my mouth to say something super complimentary only to blurt out “I really don’t think Harry should’ve become an Auror; he’s been through so much mentally and physically to keep the people he loves safe, it doesn’t feel psychologically healthy for him to take on the pressure of protecting the entire Wizarding World at the ripe old age of eighteen–this isn’t what I meant to say. I meant to say ‘hello’. Okay I’m sorry I love you so much I swear never mind I’ll leave, bye???”
So, can’t ever meet her. I have too many thoughts and feelings about Harry Potter to trust a damn word that might come out of my mouth.
2. Rainbow Rowell — Rowell’s books are my COMFORT FOOD. I’ve never identified with a fictional character as strongly as I did with Cath from Fangirl. So, naturally, I’m never going to speak to this person and tell her that.
3. John Green — I stood near him in an almost empty hallway once, does that count?? He was giving pictures and half-hugs to people, but I wasn’t remotely ready for that kind of a social interaction, so I just ran into the panel room and grabbed a seat. (BUT, he found out the next week he had meningitis, so it was probably a good thing I didn’t go up to him. Win one for this weird compulsion to avoid all opportunities for social interaction!)
4. Phillip Pullman — His Dark Materials was an incredibly important book trilogy for me growing up, as it was the first time I’d ever read a book that wasn’t just saying it was okay to be an atheist, but was arguing in our favor! Again, though, I would rather try my hand at eating broken glass than walk up to this author and tell him how much his books meant to me when I was a confused and questioning teenager obsessed with fantasy books and unsure how I felt about religion.
5. Shirley Jackson — good news, guys, she’s dead. (THIS LIST IS SO STUPID, I’M SORRY.) But, the point is, I need never agonize over telling her how her creepy, amazing, poetic and beautiful writing is right up my alley, and how We Have Always Lived in the Castle is my favorite book of all time.
6. Neil Gaiman — Another author whose work has shaped and inspired me as a person, reader, and writer. So, another person I can never make eye contact with. *thumbs up*
7. Stephen Fry — For some reason I feel like I could actually meet Stephen Fry??? I feel like he’d be super polite and nice and wouldn’t be too intimidating. But, my illusions of his approachability are probably just that, illusions. The man is incredibly smart, incredibly funny, incredibly talented, and I’ve loved basically every book of his that I’ve read — as well as every TV show, movie, and interview that I’ve watched. His interview with Craig Ferguson was particularly amazing and you should all watch it.
(I literally just scanned my bookshelf and said “let’s see, who else is dead?” — I HAVE A PROBLEM.)
8. J.R.R. Tolkein – Oh, for sure. Lord of the Rings was incredibly influential to me as a teenager, and of course the first question I would ask him is, So what did you think of the movies??? so it’s probably a good thing this is no longer a possibility.
I’ll keep to the living for my last two answers, I swear.
9. Suzanne Collins — As much as I love the Hunger Games trilogy, I’ve also talked a lot of crap about it, and I feel like she’d find out.
10. Patrick Ness — I’ve recommended the Chaos Walking trilogy to SO. MANY. PEOPLE. I love it so much, it was such an intense, emotional, visceral reading experience. So, no, obviously, I can’t ever look the author in the FACE and tell him that. I’d probably walk up to his book signing table and be like “I’m a really huge– THE CRANE WIFE WAS SO BORING, THOUGH, WHAT WAS UP WITH THAT? — fan. Such a huge fan. Okay. So sorry. Oh god.”
I see that most of my list (the ones that aren’t dead, at any rate) are on here not through any fault of their own, but because I have so many feelings, positive and negative, that I can’t trust what I would or wouldn’t blurt out when affected by nerves and pressure and a weird fight-or-flight-or-embarrass-yourself instinct that might crop up should I meet them out in the wild. So, this list isn’t meant to reflect negatively on any one of these authors. (Am I saying it’s meant to reflect negatively on me? Surely that’s not what I meant…)
Anyway. Are there any authors you feel like you’d definitely embarrass yourself in front of, if you were to meet? Does your inevitable humiliation dissuade you from meeting them, or would you like to attempt it anyways? (you brave, brave souls.) Have you ever met an author in person and, if so, did you manage to gulp down your verbal diarrhea (a delightful image), or did you spew your nerves all over the poor guy or gal? Tell me in the comments!