Heard a lot about this 'up-and-coming' author when I exhibited at the Tucson Festival of Books. You might have heard of him, I dunno.
Some guy named R.L. Stine.
Schyeah, that's right.
R.L.'freaking' Stine was literally across the way from my booth.
The worst part? I couldn't go talk to him, or gush about how much his Goosebumps & Fear Street series meant to me growing up. Still keep them on the shelf to look back at every now and again too.
Anyway, I met some awesome new readers, talked with some equally cool writers, and, well, this guy.
I told him that I had yet to make up mind on who I was voting for, but he insisted we take a picture anyway.
Super cool dude.
The dog was nice too.
His horse though...LOOK AT ITS EYES AND FLARED NOSTRILS!
Talk to any exhibitor and they'll tell you about a character or two they've ran into. Here's just a couple I met.
No offense, but...
One kid, (I say 'kid', but the guy was in college - I'm getting old!) came up to my booth and said, "Hey, no offense, but I've never heard of you."
Now, I'll preface this by saying if I truly believed this guy meant no offense, I wouldn't have taken it that way, nor engaged in what follows.
Except he did know. In fact, he looked back at the girl behind him like he wanted to make sure she heard him be oh-so-cool.
I don't know how he expected me to respond, but I got the vibe he thought I wanted to impress him maybe? Stand there and be his punching bag for weak one-liners?
His date did laugh though when I fired back at him.
"No offense," I said. "But I've never heard of you either."
He didn't buy a book...
The old folks are the best though, if for no other reason then I love their bluntness - even if it amounts to kicking you when you're down.
Such was the case with one gentleman, (whose name I never received, so we'll call him John Doe). The festival was winding down, attendees are headed for the exits and you can tell most are worn out. Nobody's making eye contact, their body language reading 'Don't even bother, dude.'
Not that it keeps anyone from taking free suckers.
Typically, someone will approach, chat me up a bit, politely ask for a sucker for them or their kid, and then leave. Sometimes they buy a book. Most times they don't, but no big deal. The suckers are there for the taking.
John thought so too.
I spotted him long before he ever approached my booth. He stood across the street, in the shade, people-watching, and he must have seen I don't know how many people come to my booth, take a sucker, and leave without much fanfare. Again, at this time of day/end of the festival, nobody's interested in chatting or buying any more books to cart home. They just want the suckers.
This goes on for what feels like an hour (in reality, probably 5-10 minutes) with John standing idly by all along. Finally, with a lull in the crowd, John makes his way over.
Even though this man and I have never met before, I can tell he's been working up to this moment by the grin he's wearing. Nodding, John walks up and takes a sucker. Then he looks at me and says:
"Suckers are doing well."
Then he leaves.
Oh, John...*blushes* Thanks for the laugh, wherever you are and whatever your real name may be. I'm cracking up still, even as I type this story. ;)
These folks rock!
Truly though, nearly everyone I met was incredibly nice and reminded me a lot of my native Hoosiers. Here's some of my favorite stories of the weekend:
Obviously, I could go on and on with stories. Whether Sarah and our conversation about fan fiction, Blair and our shared love for Christopher Nolan films and Gary Oldman, or fellow fantasy author Jacob Devlin about his upcoming debut novel this July, I had a blast meeting so many great people.
Here's to next year and my returning to Tucson for their Festival of Books 2017! Thanks again!
Author. Actor. Rascal.