Monday, November 12, 2007

I made a 10-year-old boy swoon.

Yes, I did. I made a ten-year-old boy swoon! It made my whole day. I had just arrived at the stage where I would be reading at Wordstock, when I saw a boy fall down on a bean bag chair in that dramatic way boys have, limbs every which way, and he sort of lay there looking paralyzed and I thought he was just being a boy. . . but a few minutes later I found out he fell down because of me!!!! He picked himself up and told me my book is the best book ever. Made my day. Here he is:
(Hi, Owen! Thanks!) (Oh, and I photoshopped my roots in that picture. Is that wrong?)

The reading went well. I was, of course, nervous. I decided to read not from Blackbringer but a chapter each from Silksinger and Goblin Fruit. Attendance was pretty good; sales afterward were pretty good. Alexandra (erstwhile blogger) threatened all sorts of shenanigans, like how she was going to ask me if I would estimate Magpie is more the size of a KFC chicken drumstick or a Thanksgiving turkey drumstick, but in the end, she asked nothing. Nothing! Alexandra, passing up the chance to ask a silly question, and this right after declaring she'd missed her calling by not becoming an interviewer! I think her true callling is as a blog commenter (come on, let's see what you got!)

Thank you SO MUCH to Kim and Natalie and Jennifer and Camille for coming! And of course, my parents and Penny and my photographer/bodyguard/illustrator/spouse Jim (just kidding about the bodyguard part -- sort of!) And to unknown folks who came, and serendipitious encounters, Matthew and the poet-men and Karla. And Owen. Thanks, all. The day was a good illustration of one of the things we love about Portland: crossing paths. We had just arrived when we ran into a guy I used to work with at one of my first jobs in Portland seven years ago. He worked in the bakery and I in the restaurant of a well-known Portland dessert place, but he left to go and be in a Tom Cruise movie with his twin (seriously -- they were the pre-cogs in the pool in Minority Report), and later they both went to get MFAs in poetry in Austin, TX. Cool, no? Well, he was reading with another Oregon poet yesterday and they were both amazing: Matthew Dickman and Mike McGriff. So that was one Portland serendipity.

The other turned into a serendipity later in the day. Owen, my new favorite ten-year-old, happened to be the son of the director of the festival; I met both his parents, who are both awesome. Imagine: a dad who directs a literary festival and a mom who owns a chocolate shop. Books and chocolate: this kid's got it made! Anyway, after we got home that evening, Jim was flipping through a magazine that had been delivered to the house: It's called "Mix" and it's "Portland's Magazine of Food & Drink" and Jim paused on a photo and said, "Funny, that looks like. . ." and it was. It was Owen's mom, Sarah, who owns Alma Chocolate on NE 28th, in an article on how to throw a fuss-free awesome friday night dinner party with margaritas and braised beef tacos. Ha ha! The cool thing is that this sort of thing happens all the time in Portland. Not exactly this, like meeting someone at a book festival and then later that same day seeing them smiling in a glossy food magazine, but just paths crossing. Or happening upon a poetry reading by an old co-worker. Portland: small town feel with the accoutrements of city.

I also got to chat with Michael Hoeye, a local author who also publishes with Putnam! I had heard him speak at SCBWI three or four years ago and he was a truly fabulous speaker. He had bright orange hair at the time, but no longer. Maybe he was a subconscious influence on my own hair choice? Maybe. Here's an interview in which he tells how his first book came to be written (very interesting story!)

Here's me with Owen again. He's reading some manga on the big book statue while I am having my picture taken.

And one last slightly weird story: I was on the phone at the festival, while walking, trying to find Alexandra who had vanished (as it turned out, she had left kind of like Cinderella without saying goodbye) when some guy said he liked my hair and I, distractedly, said thank you and was turning away with phone to ear when he put out his hand and said his name, and I, distractedly, shook it. I was barely paying attention, I admit, but then he asked, bluntly, "Are you single?" and right then Jim walked up which was nice and I just said no, thankyou and went on my way, but the reason I am telling this story is not because I may or may not have been hit on but because it was so weirdly blunt, and this is what it reminded me of:

Some time in the past weeks or months Jim and I rewatched some of the first-ever episodes of Angel on DVD (the vampire show, not Dark Angel), and there was an episode about a demon creature that [gross alert!] had to have a new human host body every day and the bodies fell apart so fast he kept having to transfer to new ones, and the way he did this was by picking up lonely hearts in the bars of LA (of course, all these "lonely hearts" were way too hot to be as desperate as they were supposed to be, this being TV). The demon-inside-the-hot-human would use the same pickup lines every time, and then at the end, being thwarted by the forces of good from his transition to a new body, and stuck in a falling-apart body, he was going up to women with his face half falling off, saying his pick-up lines, desperately trying to find a new host. It was grotesque-funny (anyone remember that episode?) Anyway, this guy's face was not falling off (yet), but do you think it is just possible he was a demon in desperate need of a new human host? Maybe? I'm going to say he was. That's my story and I'm sticking with it. The day the desperate demon asked me if I was single. ha ha. Maybe I should have alerted security?


Alex S said...

Fatty! I am totally one hundred percent freaking out right now! As I was leaving, just as I was about to step on the escalator, a guy came up to me too and asked if I was single! And one of his ears was hanging off the side of his head, wiggling about like it was a loose tooth or something. And thats not all. As he walked away, he left one of his toes behind like a little blueberry muffin crumb. We better call the local news right away.
(And sorry I couldn't find you again to say goodbye! It was already much later than I had realized and as you know, I had to return Otto's elbows by four.)
AND the reading was awesome! I loved hearing the scenes out loud!

Jim Di Bartolo said...

Hey Sweets!

Yeah, what a fun day that was! SO great to see the folks gathering for your reading and then line up to buy your book while you signed! I don't think I'll get over how cool that is for a loooong time! :)

Oh, and you forgot to mention how we'd seen Brett from Top Shelf at Wordstock, and then when we were leaving a restaurant half way across town hours later, a few random folks walked past recounting how they'd helped Brett bring the left-over books home! How freaking cool is that?! Yet another "Portland moment."

And as for the possible demon-dude, go easy, it's clear he has GREAT taste in female hosts! (Alexandra not withstanding, of course. Neener neener B.T!!! ;)


Amber Lough said...

Awesome! Oh, I so wish I lived in Portland. Alas, we're moving to Maryland for a year (Jim is currently househunting). We're still crossing our fingers, though, that we'll be out in Oregon next Fall.

Owen's a smart (and lucky!) kid--it's a fantastic book!

Kim G. said...

It was a great experience to be there and hear bits from the upcoming books, although on the way home Natalie lamented, "Do I really have to wait that long to read the full stories????" You did a fabulous job and we loved being a part of your cheering section (although you had quite the crowd without us!). I think you should seriously think about hiring Owen to promote your next book - the kid had energy to burn! :)

Amber said...

"Imagine: a dad who directs a literary festival and a mom who owns a chocolate shop"--- TOO COOL! What will life have to offer him better than this? It will be quite a disapointment, I'm afraid. ;)

I am sure the possible demon was really just look for a little pink-hair sumpin'sumpin'! Whoohoo! You totally got hit on.


Sustenance Scout said...

I have to agree with dragonfly-Amber, Laini; you totally got hit on, LOL! And I think Alexandra is just a little bit jealous, if I dare say so, though her story had me falling out of my chair laughing. THEN I read that Denver-Amber is moving to Maryland after we just started chatting on-line and haven't even had a chance to meet in real person. Bummer. So I was on an emotional rollercoaster here until your Zora Neale Hurston lady totally made my day! Love it! K.

Sustenance Scout said...

p.s. Congrats on a great reading!

Sarah Beth Durst said...

You are totally deserving of swooning fans. Congrats on the great event!

Best wishes,

Liz B said...

I'm not sure what I love more; that you photoshopped your roots or that you blogged about it.

Liz, who got her own roots done today in the traditional way and somehow ended up with short hair.

Shelby said...

I have to go with liz b's comment.. love that you showed the roots AND blogged about it..

enjoyed reading through your blog this morning..

take care.

Left-handed Trees... said...

Sounds like such fun...and remember you got hit on by not only a demon but by a ten-year-old, well...when you're hot, you're hot!

Anonymous said...

Just a quick note to let you know how much we enjoyed listening to you read from your new stuff. (We're the father-daughter team who kept asking questions...) Thanks, too, for the note you wrote in Allison's book. Between the wonderful stories, words of encouragement and pink hair, she was smitten. You have two new fans who can't wait for the next book.

gary and allison

Claudia said...

I WANT TO LIVE IN PORTLAND TOO -things just seem so boring around here after reading your entries - and Alexandra´s comments!

blessedmatch said...

Challenging Alexandra to leave a post? Really, Laini, I thought you had better sense than that.