Waiting for???

Earlier this year I was at a dinner for the Freedom to Read Foundation, and was privileged to be seated at the same table with a gifted Y/A writer, who is not only an outspoken supporter of freedom to read and write, but is also very popular.  Her publicist was at the table and mentioned that thousands of kids line up when this woman appears at events.

This remark sparked a hot argument among the rest of us: who would we wait in line for hours to meet?  I said, “No one.” Not because there aren’t people I admire greatly–but because I don’t want the glazed eyes, the smile that goes to people in a crowd of thousands.  I want to be recognized, my special Sara-ness acknowledged.  I waited once for Renee Fleming when she was autographing CD’s, and was treated to that glassy face.  I understood her need for self-protection, but I still felt disappointed.

Suddenly, though, I remembered Richard Burton.  As soon as I said his name, all the women at the table  swooned in unison.(The men guffawed, but started slavering over Liz Taylor).  Yes, we women agreed, we would wait for hours for Burton, but only if he read something to us–preferably love sonnets of John Donne, but the phone book would be acceptable.  I almost drove off the road once, listening to a cassette of Burton reading Donne. (The link in this paragraph takes you to a Harper Audio site where you can hear Burton read Donne.)

Richard Burton as Hamlet

Richard Burton as Hamlet

Is there anyone you’d wait to meet?  Would there have to be, as in my Burton fantasy, a personal connection, or would the glassy shielded smile be enough for you?

(I don’t have the Y/A writer’s permission to mention her name, which is why I don’t give it here.)

  • Oh, well. I’m afraid I ask to interview them…

    Though I did queue up for you Sara, in Gothenburg a few years ago. Our family have learnt to study the logistics very carefully, working out how to get ‘there’ really fast and avoid having two thousand people in front. For John Barrowman the Daughter learned to sprint really fast.

    I’m too old and too everything else to cope with hours of queueing, so I don’t. And you’re right; I want something other than that 30 seconds of polite nothing-ness.

    On the other hand, Wilbur Smith (who I have no personal interest in) shook people’s hands twice and asked all sorts of intimate questions of them, in his signing queue!

    Actually, I’m just coming down with a ‘must-blog-about-this-now’ virus.

    See you all later………….

  • Pat Patton

    I drove 3 hours and spent a day in Jacksonville and was rewarded with meeting Lee Child, a handsome devil and the author of Jack Reacher novels which I love (except one). I would stand in line again to say hello and swoon as though he were a movie star I had fantasized on the big screen – it was pitiful and I would do it again.
    I stood around him like a “groupie” and bought him coffee and listened to him discuss writing and his books and current Hollywood news with other authors, ie, Joe Finder and Brad Meltzer. It was great fun.
    And I would stand in line for you, Sara, if you were anywhere near me.

  • Lee Child is great–about the most generous writer I know in how he supports others, especially beginning writers.
    This post wasn’t meant to be self-serving. I love meeting people at events, and my lines are short enough that I feel I can engage with everyone who comes to the event. But I’m reminded of a tale told me at the Tattered Cover about the time Bob Hope came to sign. They cut off the line at 800, and two women in their seventies came to blows over who was 800 and who 801!

  • Dan

    This is a maddeningly interesting question… My first answer would have to be the total pipe-dream, never-gonna-happen encounter with J.D. Salinger. I would wait in line – probably for days – for that chance. I’d take what I can get – a glassy smile, an accusation of being a phony. Anything.

  • Richard Burton? Oh yeah!

    I’m not sure I would stand in line for a glassy-eyed stare. I did once stand in a crowd of women at a George Strait concert, and was rewarded with a handshake and that famous smile! It was definitely worth it. Sigh.

    I would probably stand in line to meet a few of my favourite authors (Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Sue Grafton, and you, of course) but the chances of any of you coming to my remote area are slim to none, sadly.

  • Oh, my. Right now I have such a crush on Paul Gross, I might wait for his glassy stare. But surely one look at me would drive all thought of Ellen Burns from his mind?Paul Gross and Martha Burns in Slings & Arrows

  • Shirley Harrison

    I am “easy” when it comes to this choice. Robert Redford would still do it for me, even at his age! Also James Garner…and they wouldn’t have to say a word.

  • James GarnerUmm, with you on Garner, Shirley!

  • So, the arrogant Lee Child my son and I encountered must have been somebody else, then? He could barely be bothered to sign, and was too busy talking to someone to look at us. (Maybe he sensed I wasn’t interested in him, either?) And he made a crude comment about fancying beautiful Swedish women, which didn’t belong in the talk he did.


  • I stood in a pretty long line to get a signed picture of James Marsters (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer). He was very gracious and managed to find time for eye contact and a few personal words with everyone.

    In general, I prefer the “who would I have to dinner” pipe dream. Failing that, I’d take a glassy-eyed stare from Vigo Mortensen for sure. Also from any of a number of my favorite authors (yes, that includes you, Sara), just for the chance to say “thank you” for the hours of pleasure they’ve given me.

  • Paul Gross is Canadian! (All our men are handsome, didn’t you know that?)*snort*

  • genny from jersey

    Barack Obama!

  • Kristine M.

    I’ve had the great fortune to meet you, Ms. Paretsky, and several other favorite authors. I did stand in line for hours to meet Diana Gabaldon, a few hours to meet Brian Greene & only about 1 hour to meet Brian Jacques (he complimented my husband on his hat!). I would gladly do it again for another chance to say “thank you” to them for giving me such pleasure.

  • Pingback: Queue? Me? « Bookwitch()


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