Tuesday, October 27, 2009
That right there is me and Judy Blume. Me. Judy Blume. In the same picture. As Sherman Alexie once put it so eloquently (at the 2008 BEA Children's Breakfast): that's Judy f***ing Blume!
I've been thinking a lot about my 3-week, 8-city tour since coming home, and nothing seems to sum it up better than that picture. I met a lot of great booksellers, librarians, teachers, students, readers, bloggers, fans - and many amazing people at Random House itself - and I had so many incredible experiences. But meeting Ms. Blume was so surreal and unforgettable, and just seems to sum up how RH and The Maze Runner have changed my life.
Here's how it went down:
My hotel was just a few blocks from the Random House offices in Manhattan. I walked over and, after taking a break to eat a hot dog from a street vendor (something I'd been anxiously awaiting for months), I arrived to see this in the window right by the front door:
After shamelessly taking a picture and tweeting it, I entered the building, checked in with security and headed for the elevators. (At which point I popped in a piece of gum because that's what you do after eating a hot dog.) The doors opened, I stepped inside, and so did another person. A very nice, lovely lady.
I knew immediately that it was Judy Blume - I'd seen her speak at BEA, right after the colorfully languaged Mr. Alexie. I wanted to say something, shake her hand, hug her, get down on my knees and thank her for providing all those books that - more than any other author by far - made me fall in love with reading as a kid. But I did nothing.
The elevator dinged and we got off on the same floor. My publicist (the utterly fantastic Noreen Marchisi) was there to greet me, and the Delacorte Publisher (the utterly fantastic Beverly Horowitz) was there to greet Ms. Blume (from this point on I will refer to her as Judy because she is now my friend and you can't say anything different).
Noreen and Beverly made sure to introduce me to Judy, we showed her my book, exchanged a few pleasantries, etc. She was gracious and wonderful. But the real kicker came later. After I did a phone interview, someone came and told us that Judy had invited us back to have "tea and cupcakes" with her.
And that's when the surreal awesomeness of it all started. I spent the next hour chilling in the Big Boss's office (hi Chip Gibson!) with Judy (and several other great people, including my editor Krista and author and friend Carrie Ryan).
Me and Judy.
Judy and me.
Judy and James.
She is so awesome, guys! Not a trace or hint of arrogance. Not a wisp of condescension. She made me feel like an equal and a friend. I loved hearing about her life in the Florida Keys and how she and her husband started a movie theater down there. (Which just made me love her all the more because I'm such a movie buff.) I really, really enjoyed every minute of hanging out with her. Even the cupcakes (Famous Magnolia's) were great!
When we were done, she made me promise I'd come visit them in the Keys. Now, I know she might say that to everyone, but still. Don't burst my bubble!
Anyway. Maybe it's odd that I chose this one experience after all the incredible things I did over the last 3 weeks. But you have to understand. The words "Judy Blume" define my childhood. Plain and simple. This is not hyperbole: I love to read because of Judy Blume. She started it all for me, and to sit with her 20-something years later and talk and laugh and eat...
I'll never forget it. You may laugh, but it was as surreal as sitting down with Abraham Lincoln or Charles Dickens. Just amazing for me. I think only one event in my life could come close to matching this one, and maybe I should go ahead and shout this to the world as a plea: Could someone please make sure I meet Stephen King? As Judy defined my middle grade reading years, Uncle Stevie defined high school and everything after.
So, there you have it. I'll try to share more stories from the tour in the next days and weeks.
I do want to say one thing: Thank you to Random House. Not sure I deserved such fine treatment over the last few weeks, but I'm extremely grateful and I hope it was worth the cost. I hope my book makes you lots of money!
Lyrics of the Day:
Judy, Judy, Judy
You're so great, so great
Judy, Judy, Judy
You're the greatest great
You. Are. Great.
Judy, James Dashner
Posted by James Dashner at 10:13 AM