Monday, May 18, 2009

Celebrity Moments

I'm discovering that there are several layers of strangeness to being an author. One is the simple fact that this thing I have written is out there for the world to read and do with as they will. Strange. Another is that people -- especially kids, who are my main audience -- now think I'm famous. Strange.

Part of my job as author is to connect with my young readers, which usually happens through author visits to schools and libraries around the country. I went to my hometown, Fort Wayne, Indiana, to visit some libraries and I was shocked -- shocked, I tell you! -- by the enthusiastic embrace of my young friends. Most of the children and teens I visited hadn't ever met a person who had written a book and actually had it published. I was a demigod.

The littlest ones, elementary schoolers, stared at me with wide, disbelieving eyes. They put out their hands to touch my skin, as if testing to see whether I was real. Some of the teens were easily engaged. Others sat sullenly in the back, feigning disinterest, but remaining suspiciously quiet throughout my talk. Most of them hadn't read the novel in advance. But at the end, every single one of them jumped up, eager to have their picture taken with me and the book.

To be honest, I could give or take the celebrity treatment, though it was certainly flattering and fun. What meant the most to me in those moments was knowing that at least a child or two had their world broadened. They saw for a second that an author is a real person that you can touch with your hand and laugh with. Maybe a child or two will be inspired to write their own stories. Maybe one or two of them will feel as though their dreams are not so far out of reach.

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