Weekly Bookstore Jamboree – Week 4: John Green Mania October 26, 2008Posted by LHK in Uncategorized.
Bookstores visited: Little Shop of Stories in Decatur
What I bought: Nothing, but Adam bought a couple of John Green paperbacks we didn’t own
What other people bought: Lots and lots of John Green books. Paper Towns, mostly, but Let It Snow (the recent novel he co-authored with Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle) was also a popular choice.
What I looked at: Adam, who got to the bookstore super early and was milling around the second-story loft when I arrived (“Look up!” he called to me as I walked through the front door). John Green, who spent some time trying to connect to wireless Internet so he could webcast his presentation. He eventually had to give up on the wireless, and he started the book signing early. Well, as Adam and I were the only ones in the loft’s signing area at the time, we unnecessarily rushed John Green’s table and got a few moments to chat with him while he signed our books. Then, my pal M. arrived with a bunch of John Green books in tow. While he signed away, he asked her to call his editor to report the news about the canceled webcast. I watched, openmouthed, as M. used John Green’s iPhone to call the very esteemed senior editor at Dutton Children’s Publishing.
When she came back to her seat, I was like, “M.! Do you have any idea who you just talked to?” I tend to fangirl about YA editors and agents just about as much as I fangirl about YA authors. It’s a problem. It’s probably good that I was first in line at the signing table and not third, because nobody at Dutton Children’s Publishing needed to hear my squeeing over John Green’s iPhone.
Also, I had to observe the crowd. We were not quite the oldest people there. Some of the younger girls had brought their parents, and I noticed a couple of fellow SCBWI’ers sitting near me. Everyone else was pretty much highschool-age, though, and many of them had brought DV cams and were taping the whole thing.
What other people looked at: I should mention, though, that Adam and I were very much the weirdos of the crowd that eventually gathered in the loft at Little Shop of Stories. Adam with his delightfully non-partisan “Everyone Poops” t-shirt (isn’t he modeling it nicely?), and me with my knee-high-booted work ensemble, and our distinct lack of a camcorder. When the high school girls had their moms take photos of those of us sitting in the first few rows of seats in the loft, I felt kind of strange scooting in and smiling for the camera. They had such a sense of community, and we were clearly the outsiders.
(This is not to say that the crowd was not perfectly nice, though. I caught the girl behind me saying to her seat-neighbor, “Are you here by yourself? I don’t want you to be lonely. It’s hard to come to book signings by yourself.” And everyone else was swapping YouTube usernames and e-mail addresses and proposing future Nerdfighter meetups.)
Anyway, then Mr. Green himself took the stage. He read “the infamous page 23” from Paper Towns. (I connected page 23 with its subject matter immediately. I could have jumped up and said “BLACK SANTAS!” but I wisely stayed quiet and in my seat.) Then he spoke a bit about the themes in the novel and how he’d been exploring those same themes throughout his professional life – namely, ideas about human perception and how we filter our hypotheses about others through our own experiences. Also, he spoke about how he learned to tell stories by sitting on his roommate’s old couch and listening to other people tell stories and trying hard not to bore his friends by telling his own.
Then he took a bunch of questions. I can never come up with good questions to ask at author events or conferences until five hours after the event is over. Anyway, I asked John Green when Will Grayson, Will Grayson, his co-authored book with David Levithan, was coming out. Scintillating, I know. He said he didn’t know; probably sometime next year. Other people had much better questions than mine.
Bookstore (and author) notes:
If you don’t follow young adult literature, then you were probably heretoforth unaware of the existence of one John Green. That’s okay – nearly everyone I know pleads ignorance regarding the author of Looking For Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and Paper Towns. But if you do follow young adult literature, then you’re entirely familiar with the fan cult surrounding the Green brothers, John and Hank, and their video blog and their gigantic Nerdfighters community.
Regarding the bookstore, I realized I needed to spend a lot more time at Little Shop of Stories. And I will! Laurie Halse Anderson is paying a visit there early next month.