Monday, November 8, 2010

Suzanne Collins

What can I say about Suzanne Collins? That if I had to choose only one author to host this year it would be Suzanne Collins? That her books are fabulous? That Mockingjay is probably the most talked about, most anticipated teen book of the year? That she was named one of Time magazine’s most influential people of 2010? That it’s the book I put into everyone’s hands, the standard I hold other teen books up against? All true. So yes, just like her legion of fans I was just so very excited to meet her, to tell her how much I enjoyed the series, and to hear what is coming next.

We set up early. People started to arrive two hours early and drove miles to get here. The excitement was palpable. Soon the store was packed, every chair taken, people crowded in the aisles (see photo). We gave them bookmarks and tattoos and key chains – and yes, some Halloween candy. It felt like a party. It was a party. Can you see why I love my job?

Suzanne arrived a little early - they have been on the road quite some time and knew exactly how they wanted the tour to work. She read first from Hunger Games and chose the part about Cinna creating her Mockingjay costume (I love that scene – I really do). She read in an accent for Katniss that I could not have predicted, that she said she thought of as "futuristic Appalachian". She had to know not everyone had read Mockingjay yet so chose an early part to read from , and it was very emotional, very disturbing. It made me want to start the series again immediately, hearing her voice as I read the book. Very impressive.

To manage the crowds and make it less cumbersome for everyone, we had numbered the tickets by District so we called up one district at a time. But first we asked the two random people who had tickets marking them to participate in the Hunger Games to come forward. At this point I was holding a gun (er, a nerf gun - really - I have photos to prove it!). They looked a little nervous. One was a 10 year old girl, one a mom (whose kid didn’t want to come forward). We gave them both the nerf guns and told them to shoot each other, the first to get a direct hit gaining first place in the signing line. The mom held her gun backward. The ten year old scored a hit in seconds. Made you think. Actually brought back that scene in the first book where Prim is chosen to fight and Katniss takes her place. Made you realize how young 10 really is. But also made you realize how able a 10 year old is too. It was perfect.

The fans waited patiently and happily, browsing the books, and finishing the candy. Suzanne obviously loved meeting her fans and spoke to each person as they brought their books to be stamped, answering questions, and posing for photos. One girl said she had a brother with special needs who absolutely loved her books – she gave her a special hunger games pin for her brother. One girl said her friend had read the books “about 60 times”. She said it was probably time to find another author to read (and suggested Rick Riordan by the way). I asked about the movie. She said she had written the script’s first draft and it was being revised by someone else. And they now had a director (who also made Seabiscuit apparently). How to keep it PG 13? That will be interesting. People asked great questions.

Her background? Since 1991, Suzanne Collins has been writing for children’s television. She has penned multiple stories for Little Bear and Oswald for example and was the Head Writer for Clifford’s Puppy Days. Her inspiration for Gregor the Overlander came from Alice in Wonderland when she was thinking about how one was more likely to fall down a manhole than a rabbit hole, and would find something other than a tea party. And then in 2008 Suzanne wrote The Hunger Games and the rest is history. The series was partly inspired by the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, partly inspired by her father's career in the air force, which gave her an insight into poverty, starvation, and effects of war. She was wonderful. The over 350 people who crammed as close as they could loved her, waited patiently to have their books stamped, walked away glowing.

So much fun. She's got an idea for a new series apparently. Can't wait.

Finally, these wonderful photos are courtesy of Nancy and Tricia, two lovely friends who have let me use their incredible photos. Thank you both - I appreciate it so much.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This was an awesome event. I was mega-excited to meet her. Worth the drive (my mom said)