Last night, the golden pony came to Springfield, MA and pooped out a lovely evening for Michael and I me. (Thanks, Max.) We’re here for the Massachusetts Library Association annual conference and Michael, being Michael, lined up a truly stupendous array of guests to speak. So, last night we spent the late night hours closing down the hotel bar with:
Michael Cunningham – dashing, elegant, hilarious author of The Hours and A Home at the End of the World, of which I personally hand sold hundreds of copies when I worked at Books & Company in the early nineties
Thrity Umrigar – a surprisingly frisky Indian novelist and memoirist who wrote The Space Between Us and more recently The Weight of Heaven
I am so lucky that my husband is so fearless and is such a big dreamer. He gave me the wonderful gift of the opportunity to chat with Lynda and Thrity about menopause and to smoke with Talia and Michael Cunningham in the rain. Does that rock or what?
I just got back from Denver where I attended the American Library Association’s Mid-Winter Conference. Lots of things happen at Mid-Winter… mostly committee meetings… but among these meetings, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) chose the winner of the Newbury Medal, instituted in 1921 and awarded to the most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year. This year’s recipient was The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Neil’s in good company, with past winners including Lois Lowry’s The Giver and Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia to name just a couple.
Me and Neil
Readers of this blog know that The Graveyard Book was #3 book of 2008, certainly my #1 children’s book of the year. Who knew my tastes would dovetail with the Newbury committee? The Graveyard Book tells the tale of Nobody Owens, a young boy whose family is murdered, and ends up being raised in a graveyard by the dead, much like Mowgli was raised by the animals of the jungle in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. It’s a wonderful story, an exciting fantasy adventure, and a powerful coming-of-age tale that is completely deserving of this honor.
Some of you may remember that I got my literary thrill last June at BookExpo America when i got to meet Mr. Gaiman, a thoroughly accomdating and generous chap who put up with my gushing and even posed for a picture with me. You can read’s Neil’s amusing report on finding out about his Newbury win at his blog. Oh yeah, and don’t miss CORALINE, the 3-D film adaptation of Gaiman’s outstanding young adult novel that opens in theaters near you on February 6. Check out the first trailer for the film that Neil liked below.
As you may or may not know, I am in Los Angeles at the BookExpo America conference. It’s my favorite professional conference that I attend, as it’s all about the publishing industry and books. You get to meet and listen to tons of authors (if you so choose) and pick up tons of free books (if you so choose.) I was really excited because I was finally (after 20 + years of admiration) going to see Neil Gaiman speak as part of a Children’s author breakfast along with Eoin Colfer, Sherman Alexie and Judy Blume. The panel was terrific and Neil was a wonderful speaker.
So several hours later, I was in the HarperCollins booth with two colleagues for a meeting with our Library Marketing reps, the wonderful Virginia Stanley and Bobby Brinson. We were chatting about various things (like the delicious cupcakes that HarperCollins were passing out) and hadn’t started the meeting yet, when I glanced over my shoulder and who should I see but… you guessed it, Neil Gaiman. Well, I think I gasped when I turned back to the others and blurted out, “Oh my God, Neil Gaiman is here.” Well, without even blinking, Virginia grabbed my arm and said, “Let me introduce you to him.” And sure enough, a few minutes later, we were chatting. It’s weird, I’m not usually “star-struck” when meeting authors, actors, filmmakers, etc. I’ve gotten quite used to it through Chlotrudis and all that, but this was very different. My heart was racing a little and I think I babbled (although Viriginia said I cam across very intelligent and composed if a little excited). We chatted about him coming to Boston, about Black Orchid, his first work in comics, and then he offered to sign my book on the spot. It was a lovely meeting; many, many thanks to Virginia. He was just darling.