As far back as I can recall in my childhood, I never had a problem escaping into make-believe. Being an only child, it didn’t take me long to realize that if I wanted to have adventures everyday, I would have to make it happen. Luckily, I had no problem with that. I would spend hours in my awesome basement playroom, transforming my space into whatever it needed to be for the day’s excitement.
One day, I would be a
Duggar Mommy, taking care of my dolls and teaching them letters with my chalkboard.
The next, I was a Pioneer Girl, using the wood-paneled bar as my covered wagon and huddling in a nest of blankets against the long, cold winter.
The day after that, I was a Princess-Baker-Veterinarian, simultaneously ministering to my wounded stuffed animals while cooking up culinary triumphs in my Fisher Price Kitchen. In heels.
At night I’d curl up in bed, ready to hear my mom read a few chapters from the book that we were currently reading. Whether it was one of the Little House novels, or “Charlotte’s Web,” the day didn’t seem complete until we’d ended it with a story.
As I got older, and it was no longer “socially acceptable” to bring my American Girl Dolls to sleepovers, I turned more and more to the pages of books to allow my imagination to continue to run rampant. Through high school I explored the corridors of Hogwarts with Harry and the gang, and nothing made a night on the production line at M&M go by more quickly than a creepy Stephen King novel. During a particularly long period of Single-dom, I fell in love with Edward Cullen, and then ditched him for the oh-so-shirtless Jacob Black. I attended midnight release parties, and tore through 800-page novels on long car trips.
Books are my permission to keep dreaming, and the authors who write them are the people who transport me with their words.
My friends at The Readers Café share a little wink in regards to my fangirl attitude regarding authors. I still can’t get over how exciting it is to be living in an age where I can shoot a tweet at Katherine Longshore if I’m really enjoying “Gilt,” or join a live chat with Jennifer Weiner if I’m free on a weeknight. No longer do we have to send fan letters and wonder if perhaps they eventually find their way into the hands for which they were intended.
This week, Amy from Hamlet’s Mistress and I FINALLY met in real life to attend a reading featuring none other than Deborah Harkness, author of “A Discovery of Witches” and “Shadow of Night.”
Now, you probably know that Deb and I are already bff, but meeting her in person was inestimably cooler. Even though my camera MYSTERIOUSLY didn’t work when Army Boy tried taking a picture of me. And mysteriously DID work the minute I stole it back to get a picture of Amy.
She was warm, and witty, and displayed infinite patience, even when asked questions such as “So, I totally fell asleep listening to your book on a train? Can you tell me what the heck a (most important plot point ever) is??”*
Perhaps most fascinating to me about the whole event is that Deborah has SO much going for her, and yet she still managed to write a series that has captured the hearts and minds of so many people. She’s a college professor, a oenophile with a well-known wine blog and a historian… who just happens to write about witches, vampires and demons in her “free time.” She’s also landed a movie deal with Warner Brothers. Just your average run-of-the-mill couple of years. She could be show-offy or egotistical, snobby or pretentious, but she was none of those things. Basically, she was none of the things that we have been taught to fear from our current “celebrity” culture.
Instead, she shared a fabulous tip for writing: “Sit down and write two pages every day. Only two pages. At the end of one year, you have a book. It’s basically that simple.” (Leading EVERYONE in the room to think simultaneously “I could DO that!”)
After Tuesday night, I feel totally justified in my fangirl perception of authors, and I think that everyone there would be just a little bit more inclined to agree with me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go read all of the things.
*- Leading Army Boy to remark on the way home: “Brooke , as Deborah Harkness- ‘How about you read the $*%&#^@!! book, and then if you still have the same @#(*$&!@# question, you can ask me?’” **
**- Yup, I would probably be the jerkiest author EVER.