Saturday, May 12, 2012

Author Encounter: Anne Rice

Anne Rice and my mountain of books

 This post is going to be the first in a series about my encounters with authors and the things I’ve learned from them that have helped me as a writer and as a person. Basically I’m going to figure out a way to make it all about me…but not really.

I may or may not have let out an involuntary squeal when I read that Anne Rice would be coming to Chicago as she wrapped up her tour for The Wolf Gift.  Most of the tour had taken place on the West coast and I doubted that Rice would make it to the Midwest. Always full of surprises, she made three Chicago stops including a signing at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, IL which I attended. I reserved a spot in line the second I heard about the signing and the woman at Anderson’s assured me that I would be among the first in line. My stalker skills had really paid off.

I was probably more nervous than Anne Rice on the day of the signing, and being paranoid I decided to double check that my spot in line was secured and also to find out exactly what number I was. That’s when shit got real (and that’s the nicest way I can put it).

Me: Can you tell me what number I am?
Woman: Let me check…You’re number one.
Me: (falls on floor, picks self up) Really?
Woman: No one told you?
Me: Well the other lady said I was one of the first but not the first.
Woman: Well you’re first so don’t be late! (She said this in a totally non-snotty way just for the record)

So now I’m really nervous. I brought a couple books from home for Ms. Rice to sign and decided to put them in a bag so my sweaty hands wouldn’t ruin them.  Really I didn’t have to worry because I mylar all my books because I’m just that crazy, but I still thought some added sweat protection was in order.

Anyway, Mom and I get up to Naperville and as I’m walking in to the store I see this beautiful blonde man with a petite older woman all in black with an intricate cameo fastened at her neck. “Sweet Baby Jesus it’s Anne Rice,” I may have thought to myself and she and her assistant, Becket, walked towards me. I held the door open for them and Ms. Rice smiled and thanked me. Actually that last part was a lie. Another guy held the door open for her and I just stood there with a big stupid grin on my face and Anne Rice probably thought, “Someone needs to call security.”

After I eventually recovered from Anne Rice encounter number one I was able to get my copy of The Wolf Gift as well as a copy of Rice’s 2010 novel, Of Love And Evil since signed copies of that particular book are scarce.

So I finally get in line with all my books, Mom ready with the camera, and we wait for them to call my number. One of the things I enjoyed most about being first in line, besides being first in line, is that I was able to see Ms. Rice get ready before the signing began. Anderson’s set up the signing table behind a large bookcase so you couldn’t see Rice until your number was called. I was struck by how polite and friendly she was to the staff.  She was calm and focused, setting out her pens as Becket opened a can of Diet Coke for her. After settling into her seat, Ms. Rice gave a gentle nod signifying that the signing could begin.

Ms. Rice was gracious and warm as I spoke to her. My voice initially went up an octave, but I quickly felt at ease and told her how much her writing meant to me and the courage it provided  me as I left the Catholic Church. After signing the last of my books, she smiled at me and said, “Thank you very much. I wish you the best of luck in your own spiritual quest.” She then gave me one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen.  She’s one of those people who can instantly make you feel like the center of attention, as if you’re the only one in the room with her.

Clutching the books to my chest like a mother with her newborn, I basked in the knowledge that I had met one of the greatest writers of our time and for that I will always be grateful.

P.S. A special thanks to Mom & Dad for buying a first printing of The Vampire Lestat for Ms. Rice to sign. It’s one of the highlights of my collection.

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