Sunday, October 18, 2009

a note from down south

Okay. Well, I have to admit that I had a terrific time yesterday at the San Diego Festival of Books, meeting and speaking with authors Barrie Summy, Laura Preble and Cindy Pon. We had an opportunity to talk a bit before and after our panel about writing for teens, and I really enjoyed the company.

The best thing about the panel was that we didn't have to come up with our own material, it was moderated by someone who had a list of terrific questions all ready to go. And then, once it was opened up to the audience, I hardly had to think at all, which I found to be very convenient.

I'm going to give a brief synopsis of some of the questions and the answers I gave:

One of the questions had to do with what's next after completing a book... where do you go?

Anyone who reads this blog knows my two-word answer to that one:

"A bar."

I then handed the microphone off to the author ladies, each of whom came up with something brilliant, inspiring, and literary that made me want to be a real writer, as opposed to someone who just shows up to these kinds of events carting along his vast and invisible trunkload of neuroses. Item one: a deep fear of name badges.

[And what could possibly be more literary than going to a bar?]

Another question had to do with where we authors actually do our writing.

Again, I was somewhat shocked to learn that my panel-mates each wrote with children in their homes.


And I'm, like, Hello? Haven't you ever heard of duct tape and kiddie tranks?

But, seriously... how can you possibly write with other people in your house? I send my people AWAY when I write, or I go away myself. If all else fails, they have to stand out in the horse paddock until I blink the house lights three times.

Yeah, so there was that time the Social Services people got called, but, heck, who hasn't stood out in the snow staring for six-and-a-half hours with sad eyes at the smoke wafting upward from the chimney on a warm home? I had a deadline. Helloooo?

Honestly, I can NOT write with people in my house, and, apparently, I am not afraid to say so.

Now, let me just say what an incredible library they've got here in Poway. It's huge, very well-stocked, and full of all kinds of people who love books, sitting in very reading-oriented and study-friendly areas. And they all looked up in astonishment and reverence when we were escorted through wearing our "AUTHOR" name badges. Maybe the fact that I had scrawled something about Inigo Montoya and preparing to die on mine had something to do with that.

But the library staff, the "friends of the library," and everyone associated with the panel and our day here were absolutely great (note I am not talking about people who work for enormous retailers). These are REAL book people who love books and help kids discover the power of reading, and for an author, libraries like this one in Poway, California give you an experience as though you've arrived at journey's end from a long pilgrimage.

Cindy, Laura, and Barrie... it was a fun time. You guys rock, and I love being the "token guy" on the panel.

Oh... and this is exactly one of the points I make when I talk to high school boys about becoming a writer. In the universe of authors, dudes are outnumbered by chicks by fifteen to one, easy.