Tuesday, September 02, 2008

In which I go to Bumbershoot and name-drop...

Four years ago, I was at a New Year's Day dinner with a lot of people I didn't know all that well. At one point, I mentioned to one of the guests that I was a children's librarian who loved Young Adult literature too, and she said, "Hey, my cousin has a YA book you should really check out. It's called Teen Angst? Naaah... by Ned Vizzini." I got the book from the library, read it, and enjoyed it. Then, I checked out Ned's website and sent him an email. We maintained an email correspondence through the publication of Be More Chill, and then after a hiatus, I finally got to meet Ned and his fiance at the Bumbershoot festival yesterday, where he was one of three YA authors on panel called "The Kids Are Alright: Ellen Hopkins, Francesca Lia Block, Ned Vizzini with Deb Caletti." Ned read from It's Kind of a Funny Story and talked about Angstpiration, i.e. "how you can use art to get out of the increasingly insane psycho-social academic climate that's sending more and more kids to doctors and hospitals."

Ned had kindly put me on his guest list, so I was able to get in for free (Thanks so much, Ned! I felt like a big-shot for 30 seconds), but I was a little bit shy about meeting him, as I usually am before meeting people who are, in essence, pen-pals.* When I introduced myself, he gave me a big hug, and after signing everyone's books, we got to hang out for a little while backstage. I was glad also to meet the lovely Sabra, Ned's fiance. Sabra took this photo:

In addition to enjoying Ned's painfully humorous talk, I also decided that I needed to read all of Ellen Hopkins' books and give Francesca Lia Block another chance. I'd read Weetzie Bat years ago without it making a strong impression on me one way or the other, but after Block read "Skin Art" from Blood Roses, I realized I'd been missing out all these years. I'd also been avoiding stories of drug use and novels in verse for awhile (yes, I'm a curmudgeon, what's it to you?), but after listening to Ellen Hopkins and a teen guest she'd invited to help read parts of Crank, I thought, "Okay, you've reeled me in."

By the way, Ned signed a copy of It's Kind of a Funny Story for the Second Annual Kidlitosphere Conference dinner raffle, and expressed interest in the conference in general. I hope he can show up for a future conference.

*I'm meeting Adrienne Furness next week for the first time, too. Yea rah!


Jules at 7-Imp said...

Oh I'm so jealous. You and Adrienne together, and I can't be there! You can't see it, but I'm pouting.

What a lovely photo of you both. So glad you got to meet.

I read Weetzie Bat in grad school and it also did not blow my skirt up.

TadMack said...

Heh. Jules. I love the way she puts things. I would have said, "Weetzie Bat. Meh." But I live in NORTHERN California, and Weetzie is all SOUTHERN, and it's very high maintenance and fake glam to me. Of course, since then I've read Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and have realized that it's the difference between City and Suburb, and some people actually live like that. I just don't want to.

I should re-read Weetzie Bat, too; I read it in grad school as well. But I won't.

Ned really does seem to be a sweet person. I'm always a little shy when authors comment on my reviews!

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Jules: The funny things you say always catch me by surprise! I should have learned by now....

TadMack: I went to your site to look for your review, but couldn't find it-- is it elsewhere? I'd be shy to have authors comment on my reviews, too. I got reamed out once, too, early on in my review-writing career. Fortunately, SLJ gave me the last word, and said it could have been worse.

adrienne said...

WOOO HOOO! I got out the suitcase this morning, which means I am really going on the trip.

(By the way, I would like some cosmic bonus points for getting the suitcase out almost 48 hours before I get on the plane. I have not put anything *in* the suitcase yet, of course, but I've *thought* about it, and isn't that what really matters?

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Adrienne: You definitely get the 50 extra points for bringing out the suitcase.