Monday, September 10, 2007

Soupy Tour -- Gimme Writer's Cramp Any Time

Chicago -- after a Monday spot on the noon news, and a sandwich back at the hotel with George and General Petraeus (the latter on the tube) I decided to catch up on my Blog – which turned out to be a Big Mistake – because instead of resting up for the evening event, a book signing in Skokie, I tried to upload photos into just the right place in my post and kept getting everything wrong. (Where are you Meg Cabot when I need you? Meg's blog is my inspiration!) This can be very frustrating to a novice like me. Never mind time consuming. Two hours flew by and next thing I knew it was time to leave for an interview with B&N. I think it will be downloadable as a podcast from their website.

Judy, my author escort, reminded me that she’d met me way back in the mid-70's when she worked for Kroch’s (a bookstore) and I was on tour (probably for Wifey) and my marriage was falling apart and I cried my way through the city, trying to pull myself together for interviews, then falling apart again. I’d actually forgotten about that. Who’d want to remember? It was a hellish time in my life. I couldn’t wait to introduce her to George to prove I’d gotten it right this time. Lovely Elizabeth, from Random House, was also with us. She’d flown in to Detroit on Saturday to be with me at the signing and continued on to Chicago. By Monday evening we'd bonded -- that's how it is on the road. So, off we went to Skokie, in the rain, with Judy our author escort doing a fine job behind the wheel. Of course I was thinking, Rain!-- that means no one will show. (That old anxiety still cropping up.)

But it was a great crowd and a great mix of young kids, parents who grew up with my books, teachers, librarians, the curious, and those loyal 20-somethings who always choose Just As Long As We’re Together and Here’s To You, Rachel Robinson as their favorites. We did a Q&A, my favorite way to interact with an audience. After the 5th “Where did you get the idea for Fudge?” question we got down to the business of signing. Three hours later I was a zombie (stretching out my arm and fingers to avoid writer's cramp, which I've learned to do because I had it once, in Australia and I couldn't sign anything, let alone my name -- but George volunteered to sign for me, and you know what? -- no one minded at all. ) But in Skokie I signed everything, including one boy who went home with my autograph on his forehead – with his mom’s blessing. (Please don't ask -- I'm not doing that again!) I wonder if I was using a washable sharpie or the permanent kind? I guess he’ll find out.

Four year old Lev Mickey, who knows all the Fudge books by heart, and is on his way to knowing every word in Soupy Saturdays agreed to a photo with me. I told him, “You are really special!” And he answered, “I know.” Everyone around us broke up laughing. I’d like to meet him again in twenty years (okay, make it ten).

And here’s how an author spends her time following a three hour signing. (Actually, I signed stock earlier, and I'm thankful I did because at that point I could barely stand up, let alone sign more books). But, hey – I loved every minute of it! Thanks to all who came out to meet me. I know it was a long wait. I know you were hungry and tired by the time it was over. I got to eat a bowl of pasta at 10pm. It was SO good! Hope you went to bed with full tummys, too.

Special thanks to the team at B&N in Skokie, especially Mary Anne. It couldn’t have been better!
XX Judy

PS I read that Junot Diaz was reading from his new novel Monday night at the Chicago public library. I said to George, “Let’s go!” Then I remembered that I had a book signing at the same time. Sorry, Junot. He’ll be joining us in Key West in January at the Literary Seminar.