Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Charlaine Harris liked FHT and other things I learned at RT Convention

So I'm standing in line with Holly Black to buy books for one of the autograph sessions at the RT Convention (I was finally going to meet John Scalzi in person and was pretty stoked about this) when I get a tweet pointing me to Charlaine Harris's blog.  I follow the link and lo and behold, she's not only read The Forest of Hands and Teeth, but also liked it!  As I'm sure you can imagine, this excites me to no end and I blurt out to Holly something along the lines of, "OMG! Charlaine Harris read Forest!!  And she liked it!!  OMG!! She called it remarkable!!" and there might have been some jumping up and down as well.

Next thing I know, the woman in front of us in line turns around.  Not in that "you're acting crazy what's wrong with you" kind of way but in that "did I just hear someone say my name?" kind of way.  Holly breaks into a huge grin and I glance at the woman's name tag.

Yep, I was standing right behind Charlaine Harris in line and she heard it all.  I'm pretty sure I blacked out everything that came next: Holly assures me that I said thank you and yes, I did turn bright red and stammery.  I remember thanking her for taking the time to read and post and she said that she hadn't have said it if it weren't true.  I pretty much beamed the rest of the day.

Seriously, that kind of coincidence is the type of thing I'd read in a book and roll my eyes at -- how crazy!  Crazy awesome, that is :)

In a nutshell, the RT Convention pretty much rocked.  I'd never been to RT before (I'd only gone to RWA Nationals) and I had no idea what to expect.  Pretty much, the convention had everything: craft panels where I was struck with inspiration and furiously took notes, events like the Mr. Romance contest that had everyone hooting and hollering and laughing, and in between lots and lots of hanging out with pretty awesome people.  Ally Carter has a great recap with lots of photos here and Jen has a list of ten things she learned here (yes, the evil hair is important!).

Pictured (clockwise from back left): Holly Black, Jeaniene Frost, me, Vicki Pettersson, Ally Carter, Patrice Michelle, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, and Melissa Marr. Photo taken from Ally and Jen's blog
I'm sitting here trying to put into words what the whole experience was like and feeling like it's an impossible task (even though it's kind of my job to figure out how to put things in words, d'oh!).  I think this is the best I can do for the moment: one night we were talking about going to our first writing conference and Holly mentioned going to World Fantasy when she knew no one and what that felt like.  It reminded me of going to RWA Nationals in July 2006.  I knew of a few people online but not that many and I went to the conference by myself.

Here's the part that I'd forgotten: standing in my room, wanting to cry because there were hundreds of people downstairs and I was going to have to push myself to go down there even though I knew no one. I remember standing outside the entrance to a ballroom where one of my chapters, the ChickLit chapter, was having a mixer and having to take a deep breath and tell myself over and over again, "You can do this" when all I wanted to do was go run and hide in my room.  I remember forcing myself to go into the room, to introduce myself to people, to smile and not let anyone see how terrified I was.

For a moment, at the start of RT before Ally (my room-mate) arrived I had to tell myself the same thing: rather than stay safe in my room I had to tell myself "you can do this," and force myself to go downstairs.  The elevator doors opened, I took a deep breath and stepped out onto the convention floor.  The first people I saw were Holly and Jen and Melissa and that was that: I wasn't alone anymore.  It made me feel like I'd found a home.

I've always thought that one of the best things about this industry is the people in it, and the RT Convention was no different.  I feel so lucky to have had the chance to hang out with such amazing people and soak in their wisdom.  And now that my well is refilled... time to get writing :)


Zombie Joe said...

Just imagine what it must feel like to have those kind of feelings and then introduce yourself - at a romance novel convention of all places - as Zombie Joe. Forget that most people know me as that, it still adds to the awkward. ;)

On the upside though the people I met there - you, Vicki Petterssen, the entire League of Reluctant Adults - not only helped me feel like I could do the convention, but that I was actually supposed to be there.

All that from one book signing. Amazing, huh?

Carrie Ryan said...

You were totally supposed to be there -- I was stoked to finally meet you! I'm so glad you came!

Elizabeth Briggs said...

Thanks for this post. I am super shy in person, and already stressing about the upcoming SCBWI LA convention. I want to meet awesome people but I am also terrified! It helps to know other people (even super cool published authors) feel this way!

Georgiana said...

Wow! What an exciting encounter. I'm very happy for you.

And good job conquering your nerves, which can be one of the hardest jobs in the world. Hooray!

Shaun Barger said...


Just wanted to say I'm most of the way through Forest of Hands and Teeth, and I absolutely love it so far. Really beautiful, really intense. Bought it yesterday, I've been covertly reading snatches of it at work all day held under the keyboard pull-out part of my desk.

I'm looking forward to finishing it tonight, and buying Dead Tossed Waves later this week.


Also, that's really awesome about Charlaine Harris. True Blood = so very awesome. In that same situation I would have probably stammered incomprehensibly before she was like "um, okay buddy," and walked away.

Carrie Ryan said...

Elizabeth - I know exactly where you're coming from! The good news is that the YA/MG writing community seems to be so super nice and welcoming!

Thanks Georgiana - it was definitely hard to conquer nerves and a few times I wanted to run screaming upstairs and hide in my room, but I just kept telling myself that I could do it :)

Thanks so much for your comment Shaun! So glad you're liking FHT! And yeah, that was pretty much my reaction when Charlaine turned around :)