28 November 2008

YA Lit Symposium '08:: Meeting a hero and keeping my dignity

Written November 9th at the Nashville Airport:

This was one of those weekends-- kinda like that "I Want To Hold Your Hand" movie I caught on TV when I was a teen-- where you're trying to meet someone... and they're consistently just out of your reach. This was no Beatles gathering, though. This was Gene Luen Yang in all his dorkilicious glory.

I loved "American Born Chinese" of course but I was really moved by "Loyola Chin and the San Peligran Order." The whole reason I came to the YA Lit Symposium was because I wanted to see him do the preconference on graphic novels. Then I registered and discovered it had already been capped and I wouldn't be able to participate. Gyaaaaahhh! Bah humbug.

After the first day of the symposium, I occasionally ran into some preconference attendees who glowed about how deliciously funny he was. Meanwhile, I growled inside. I say that jokingly, and at the same time, not really...

So all I could really do is sit in the front row of his Meet the Author session and he wound up sitting there too, but not next to me, because I'd put my stack of papers and flyers in the chair to my right. I wound up realizing my mistake, taking the papers away, and Terry Trueman sat there instead. And he is a trip. And fun. But not Gene Yang. Ha.

The rest of the conference was wonderfully informational. I got to hang out with some old friends and meet some new ones. It can be hard to function like a human being at these things. It's, like, almost imperative to network even if you feel like you're one of the few out there who isn't a part of some clique.

Ah well. Before I knew it, it was time to go home. To beat the influx of librarians trying to get to the airport on time, I decided I would miss out on the closing session and just get out early. I got the last seat on the shuttle, only to realize that the guy in front of me...

That haircut... Those cheekbones...

My first sighting of authors at TLA~ God, I was an ardent obsessive bee-yotch who just wanted a picture with a writer, even if I didn't know who that person was. Now, behind Gene Yang in a small van on the way to the airport, I was able to I guess have a librarian moment with him, however short.

Once past security and at my gate, I spotted him walking, by himself, along the American Airlines concourse. He looked just like any guy carrying his luggage. There was no "I am a Printz Award Winner" glow. No "I have librarian groupies." Just a random guy. I thought, "Aw man I never asked him if he had a copy of his book on him that I could buy and get autographed." But I left him alone.

I didn't want to be the fanatic librarian who can't resist bugging an exhausted author. I'm not that much of a newbie anymore.