Signing. A lot of it going on around the Book Fair, at rectangular tables with author name cards and lines of readers in front of them, books tucked under their arms. Don’t cry too much, but it’s tough to be a big-name writer, armed with nothing more than a Sharpie and a smile. Naomi Wolf gave so rousing (arousing?) explication of the vagina-brain connection — it was practically a religious revival in that Miami Dade lecture hall — that when she reached the signing table outside some steam seemed to have gone out of her step. Another signer, a graphic novelist, puts down a full, funny illustration of himself on the title page. Takes time to get through a line of signature seekers when you go all out like that. It’s good there’s entertainment here while you wait.
For some diversion on this subject, check out the autograph auction that will be held November 29th by Swann Galleries in NYC. You can see all 294 lots online and whether you like Americana, presidents, artists or writers, there’s something for you. Not that you can necessarily afford one of these scraps of ephemera. A handwritten quote from Mark Twain from his Pudd’nhead Wilson is starting at $3,000 to $4,000. “Consider well the proportions of things: it is better to be a young June-bug than an old bird of paradise.” Whatever that means.
A woman who interviewed me today for a radio show asked for my signature in The Orphanmaster even though, she unapologetically announced, she hadn’t read the book. “It might be worth something some day!” she said with a funny tone, as though that was actually the least likely scenario that would ever come to pass.
On the subject of never knowing what might come to pass, I visited a panel that had four participants: the two authors of Beautiful Creatures, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, and two young actors who will star in the 2013 film adapted from that teen novel. The two writers met when one was the teacher of the other’s adolescent daughter. They hatched the story and wrote it over seven weeks, only as a means of entertaining their daughters and their friends, with what Garcia called a “human coming of age story in a magical world.” An author friend submitted the manuscript to a literary agent behind their backs. That book and sequals have gone on, of course, to be mega mega best sellers. Stohl, the teacher, even had to quit her teaching job — she said sorrowfully — she just had to spend so much time touring internationally on behalf of the book, it wasn’t fair to the kids she taught. As for the movie, they were thrilled, thrilled, and one provocative detail is that the set and actors were so perfect, when the book’s editor visited she burst into tears.