I’m sorry this is soooo long, but I tried to give you a small sense of that fateful day, otherwise known as, the day the roommate and I met Suzanne Collins at BEA. I’ll add the pictures as I receive them. (The title of this blog is a reference to the fact that I’ve trained google to show me Book Expo America instead of the Bureau of Economic Analysis when I search “BEA.”)
So I’m guessing you all know about this video my roommate and I made to celebrate The Hunger Games being a contender in School Library Journal’s Battle of the (Kids’) Books.
And you probably know that not only did The Hunger Games WIN said competition, but School Library Journal decided to INTERVIEW US because our video had gained so much attention.
But what you might not have known, is that Suzanne Collins’s publicist (Suzanne Collins being the author of The Hunger Games) saw the video and/or the article, and decided to invite me and my roommate to Book Expo America because Suzanne was going to be there signing ARCs (that’s advance reader copies: early paperback editions of the book that are given away to reviewers) of CATCHING FIRE, the second book in the Hunger Games Trilogy. Um, WOW.
So of course we said yes, we’d absolutely LOVE to go, that would be amazing, etc. Not only to meet Suzanne, but to attend Book Expo America, which is the largest book trade fair in the United States, closed to the public, and as someone interested in a profession in children’s book publishing, attending would be a DREAM COME TRUE.
On the day of BEA, many people were lining up outside the convention center at 6am or earlier to get tickets to the Suzanne Collins signing, as it was a ticketed event, meaning only the first 200 people could get signed copies. The tickets were free, but it was first come first served. Our friend at Scholastic (Suzanne’s publicist) had assured us that they would reserve copies for us at the booth (RESERVED COPIES, OMG) so there would be no need to stand in line.
So we arrived at the much more reasonable 9am, and walked around awkwardly. For a couple of reasons:
1. We had badges that said SCHOLASTIC on them, but we didn’t actually work at Scholastic. This caused some confusion as people would ask us something about a company that we knew nothing about and we were too lazy to explain why exactly we were there.
2. At first we were kind of confused to how the ARC giveaways worked at the different booths. For instance, I knew that there would be copies of Libba Bray’s new book Going Bovine, at the Random House booth, but when I got there, there were two people I didn’t know signing books, and no Libba Bray books in sight. Hmmm. Eventually we realized that at the bigger houses, they have their own little schedule to when authors would be arriving to sign and give away books, and so we figured out that Libba Bray would be at the booth at 12, so we went to eat lunch and came back up for the signing.
Libba was SUPER cool, and hilarious, and I told her how much I loved her post on Prop 8, which I linked to in a previous blog, and really, it’s great, you should go read it RIGHT NOW, and we got copies of GOING BOVINE which besides having the strangest plot summary of all time, looks to be pretty good and I’m excited to read it.
Then… we were RECOGNIZED. Seriously guys. A woman (who worked at Baker & Taylor, if you can believe it) stopped us in the middle of an aisle and said, “I LOVED YOUR YOUTUBE VIDEO!” and we kind of stared at her dumbfounded for a second, before thanking her profusely and probably terrifying her in the process. It was amazing.
Speaking of amazing… we then went to the Scholastic booth at the time we were supposed to meet up with someone from Scholastic, and we were trying to figure out who to ask, because we knew the name of the person we were supposed to meet… when all of a sudden FOUR DIFFERENT people run up to us. “IT’S THE EVERDEEN SISTERS!” “We are huge fans!” “We all love your video!” and I almost cried it was so great. A bunch of people told us how amazing they thought the video was, and believe me, if I knew the VP of trade marketing at Scholastic would be watching it, I’d have at least tried to render the video in higher quality, but they all loved it and it was so cool. They then took a picture of us in front of the HUGE Catching Fire display they had, and I’ll post that picture when I get it, don’t worry. We then were escorted over to the Author Green Room, where all the authors who are about to sign hang out, and they eat cookies and drink espresso and talk about the weather or whatever they do, and we had to wait for Suzanne for a while because she had just come from an event, and I suppose one of the bad things about being a person who actually BELONGS at BEA is that a million people stop you every five seconds to chat and you can’t get from point A to point B. But we had a great talk with the woman from Scholastic, and she even said that they wished they had a Library Marketing position open for me (since in the interview I said that was what I wanted to do). Ahh.
And then… Suzanne arrived. She GAVE US EACH HUGS, told us how much she loved our video, and then took two books out of her bag. Two HARDCOVER copies of Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy and inside she wrote “For Summer, a true Everdene sister, Thanks for the amazing video! Love, Suzanne Collins” and then she has this little vine stamp that she stamps on all her books, and she wrote “PRIM” over the stamp (because in the interview, we referred to ourselves as Prim and Katniss, and I’m Prim).
Oh. My. God.
At this point my roommate almost cried (which is quite a feat, as there’s a few reasons we call her Katniss Everdeen, and her lack of human emotion is one of them), and I couldn’t believe that we had just received a GIFT FROM SUZANNE COLLINS. (The protagonist of Far From the Madding Crowd is a woman named Bathsheba Everdene, which is where Suzanne got the Everdeen part of Katniss’s name, as they apparently have similar boy problems. Suzanne gave it to us because, as “Everdeen Sisters” we should at least know where we got our name. Ahh!) Then she signed the copies of Catching Fire that Scholastic has reserved for us, and our copies of The Hunger Games that we had brought from home. She was so cute because she had this little box of rubber stamps, and she stamped each book with either a vine pattern or a feather before she signed them, and she wrote little notes like “Let the Hunger Games begin!” on The Hunger Games and “May the odds be EVER in your favor” on Catching Fire. She also wrote our names which was cool because all the people at the ticketed signing were not allowed to get their books personalized, so we felt pretty special. We also met her agent and her publicist (the latter of whom invited us to this whole thing, so we were very excited to meet her). We joked with Suzanne about how we were afraid she would sue us for calling ourselves “The Everdeen Sisters,” and talked a little with her publicist about how the roommate and I met (study abroad in Taiwan), which she thought was awesome (CAUSE IT IS!!) Later when Suzanne’s agent asked if we were indeed going to library school (something a librarian suggested to us casually and was mentioned in the article) the publicist said “No, she’s going to work in Library Marketing at Scholastic!” (referring to me) and I almost gave her a hug. And now I kind of want to be Suzanne just so I can hang out with her agent and publicist. And then Suzanne had to go sign other peoples’ books, so they disappeared out the back door to the autographing area and the roommate and I stood gaping at each other for about 20 minutes.
We then met up with a friend of mine from the Denver Publishing Institute, and got a couple more ARCs (so many that my handbag strap broke!), but really there was nothing that could top what had just transpired, so eventually we just trekked back to the path station and went home to read Catching Fire.
Then the next day we headed over to Books of Wonder where Kristin Cashore (the author of Graceling, another book in the battle of the books that we liked, just not as much as The Hunger Games) was signing, and before the signing began, she looked over at us and said “I recognize you two! I loved your video!” and then proceeded to tell her agent and publicist who we were, as if we were people they should KNOW. Later when we got our books signed, she said “When Graceling got eliminated, I thought to myself ‘Graceling, you’re going down like a basset hound!’” (Which is a line from our song). You guys… KRISTIN CASHORE QUOTED US and not the other way around.
Life is good. So was Catching Fire.