Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Meeting an Idol

I'd like to start off by saying that I am really, really sick right now, and was last night when this momentous event happened. I can possibly attribute the tears to feeling like I was going to die, but probably not. I'm sure I would have cried anyway.

Regardless, last night I went to the Rosamond Gifford Lecture Series talk in Syracuse. Every year a handful of authors are invited to speak about their books, writing in general, and their lives to an audience of interested readers. Last night the guest speaker was none other than Laurie R. King, mystery writer and personal godess to yours truly. Her books about Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, has long been my favorite series, which I have spoken about before.

Last fall, when the 11th book in the series came out, she had an illustration contest for a microstory to accompany the book. Though I did not win, mine was the first submission sent, and in returen I got an awesome poster. I was determined to get the thing signed, so I carried it around in my car for months so as not to forget it.

Naturally, on Monday morning I woke up feeling like death, and only got sicker throughout the day. By the time my mom was ready to leave, I was actually contemplating not going, a true sign of how sick I was. I have worshiped this woman for at least a decade, I have a tattoo in tribute to her, and I was considering not going to see her talk. That was a low point in my life, I can tell you.

Fortunately, my mom convinced me to get off my butt, take some painkillers and go. I'm so very glad I did.

The woman dresses like Marilla Cuthbert in her promo photos, and doesn't change a bit in real life. She walked out on stage and spoke the first sentence from The Beekeeper's Apprentice and I began to cry.

"I was fifteen when I first met Sherlock Holmes, fifteen years old with my nose in a book as I walked the Sussex Downs, and nearly stepped on him."

Never mind that I was myself fifteen when I first read the book, and madly in love with all things Sherlock Holmes (still am, for that matter), but King has been one of my great writing influences since then as well. Hearing her recite the first words of one of my favorite, and certainly my most read, books of all time was quite moving. As I'm sure you inferred from the whole weeping thing.

Anyway, the rest of her talk was great, made better by the fact that the painkillers kicked in halfway through and I felt human again. She talked about her own practices when writing, the new projects she has in mind and answered questions from the audience, including mine. Once the talk was over my mom and I quickly exited the theater, attempting to find out where she would be signing books, having been informed by her Facebook page that she would be. We were then told by an usher that all of the signings had happened earlier in the day.

This was the second time that evening I was moved to tears, and this time it wasn't in a good way. My mother, bless her, doesn't take no for an answer and, in a move worthy of Holmes himself, figured out where the reception must be located by checking every door we came to.

I think we were technically crashing a party, but I don't care, since it was here that I actually got to meet Ms. King. I almost cried again, but I was able to hold it together enough to gush like a teenager at a Backstreet Boy's concert (or another, more relevant group). She is a lovely person, and seemed to genuinely appreciate the fawning, or at least had the grace to not be visibly appalled. It was quite a moment for me, and I only wish I hadn't been so damn sick, so maybe I could have formulated an intelligent argument for why she should let me write a screenplay of one of her books. Oh well.

At least I got my poster signed.