Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the lovelies at The Broke and the Bookish.
This week’s Top Ten theme is:
TOP TEN AUTHORS YOU'D DIE TO MEET.
Yes. I know. It's not Tuesday, it's Saturday. I'm sorry! I promised myself this week that I would not turn on my laptop until I'd finished up all of my school work for the year. Hence my delay. Sorry about that! I didn't want to not participate in the meme this week as I loved the theme and wanted to have my say.
Okay, I should begin this by saying I wouldn't literally die to meet any author. It seems like I'd either die before I got the chance to say howdy, or I'd never get a chance to blog about it! What a waste, eh? Still, in the spirit of the meme I'll come up with a list.
I've been browsing the linky-links on The Broke and the Bookish and noticed that a whole bunch of people would die to meet Stephen King. So I thought I'd briefly tell you about the time I actually did meet the master of horror.
< Here I am in London, clutching the copy of Lisey's Story that I'm about to get signed. I've got a beer in hand, a big grin on my face, and butterflies the size of pterodactyls in my tummy. And I have a little something in my bag. I am about to listen to an interview and reading of the book by the one...the only...Stephen King.
It's a dream come true for me. I've been in love with King's work since I was eleven years old. I consider him the epitome of literary awesomeness. I've spent years thinking about all of the questions I'd ask, all of the things I would say to him if I ever got the chance to see him face to face.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I should start where Julie Andrews would have wanted...
In many ways I'm a lucky girl. I have a great family, a wonderful husband, a decent enough brain in my head and a job that I like (most of the time =P). But when it comes to competitions and games of chance, I'm a snake-eyes sort of girl. I never win stuff. So imagine my surprise when I got a letter from The Times telling me I'd won two tickets to meet Stephen King in London! I'd get to watch him be interviewed, listen to him read from the book and then get my copy signed. It was a dream come true.
My sister (the lovely lady who took the above photo) said she'd come with me and we made a great day of it. We explored London, ate nice food, saw some great sights and had a generally merry-old-time. We both love Covent Garden so we spent a good part of the day there, wandering through the markets, watching the street performers and buying stuff we had no real need for.
In one cute, little joke shop I saw a set of fanged chattery teeth. For those of you who don't know, Stephen King wrote a a short story called Chattery Teeth. It was hilarious and dark. Kathy Bates (love love love) narrated the audio version and it was later adapted for screen in Quicksilver's Highway.
I had me an idea.
I was there to enjoy being on the receiving end of King's insanity/brilliance... but maybe I could do something for him too! I was 21. I figured I was being quirky, original, memorable. I bought the fanged chattery teeth and put them in my bag. I just knew that Stephen King would find the gesture funny.
My sister and I waited for the event to begin. It actually turned out that we were about 15 miles away from the actual event as we had gone to the address on the letter that the Times sent, which was the office of the publisher. Oops. Cue a hectic taxi-flagging, a few broken speed limits, a hell of a tip and a lot of panicking. Thankfully, we made it.
I was there. I had arrived. I was in the same building as Stephen Effing King! Palpitations.
His interview was mind boggling. He was quirky and random. He completely ignored the interviewer's questions and talked about his shoes (which were actually Tom Clancy's shoes...long story) for a good 20 minutes. His reading was enthralling and his voice expressed the care and mastery that he had put into every word. And then...
And then came the signing.
There was a bit of a queue. About 200 people had tickets to the event and we all wanted our books signed. I think it was the queue that broke me. It gave me too much time, you see. It gave me too many minutes to imagine how I'd probably end up dribbling, or stumbling or making a prat of myself in some other magnificent way.
I'm not a nervous person. I've made speeches, given presentations, been on stage, been on the radio and even been filmed. I do not get tongue tied. But suddenly I was in the presence of my hero, my idol. I had this one chance to say something dazzling and witty to the man who had inspired me so much since my childhood.
I failed in an EPIC way.
I was innocent. It never occurred to me that, as I reached into my shoulder-bag and pulled out a small parcel wrapped in a pretty little Covent Garden bag, that it could possible be seen as anything other than sweet. King sat behind the desk, scribbling his name on my book. My mouth refused to utter any real words. My hands shook as I tried to reach out and give my hero a tacky little gift that I thought would make him smile...
And his bouncers converged from either side.
The little package was snatched from me and taken away. A thin lipped, black-suited woman who I think was some kind of personal assistant glared at me. My cheeks flushed with more embarrassment than I thought possible. The people behind me were sniggering. And Stephen King didn't even look up. As he handed me my signed copy of his book, he was already looking at the couple behind me. His bouncers thought I had some kind of incendiary package and his PA was about a second away from calling the police or having me escorted off the premises...but he didn't even glance at me.
The couple behind me stepped forward, effectively pushing me aside, and the PA placed a hand on my shoulder to direct me away from my embarrassing scene. I had travelled about 160 miles, spend God-Knows-How-Much on train fares and such, let my heart swell with happiness... all to make a fool of myself in front of my most admired hero.
When I remember it now I don't blush as furiously as I once did. Seven years have passed and so the shame is a shadow of what it once was. In a way, I guess it's even a good story! Stephen King has always inspired me and now, in a strange way, he's given me a little "horror" story of my own to tell.
They say that you should never meet your heroes, don't they? I'm not sure about that. I'm glad I got to see Stephen King. I'm sad that he didn't even meet my eye as he signed his name, not even when his entourage thought I was trying to blow him up, but still, I got to see the man behind the mastery. So I wouldn't say that you should never meet your heroes. I would, however, say that you should never take your hero a small package wrapped in paper if there are bouncers present. You should never trust your lips to be their usual witty selves when you most want them to be. And you should remember that if you ever manage to achieve your own dreams of becoming an author who is successful enough to warrant a book-signing... a little eye contact and a smile goes a lot further than a signature!
AND NOW FOR THE TOP TEN!
I'll make it quick after that rather epic tale. In no particular order...
1. Stephenie Meyer
2. Neil Gaiman
3. Alice Walker
4. Maya Angelou
5. Lewis Carroll
6. JRR Tolkien
7. Grace Nicholls
8. Philip Pullman
9. Edgar Allan Poe
10. Stephen King ...because this time I'll manage to string more than two garbled syllables together, damn it, and nobody would make the mistake of thinking I was trying to blow anything up!
Again, I'm sorry it's late, but I hope my little memory was worth a glance.