I promised a blog post about about my surreal experience with Stephen Chbosky (author, screenwriter, and director of Perks of Being a Wallflower) and RJ Palacio (author of Wonder), so here we go. Strap in.
After a wonderful, long last day of Book Expo, my friend Dave Connis (Temptation of Adam drops in November), my mom, and I were sitting in the Starbucks area, just relaxing when Dave looks up and says, "Hannah, that's Stephen Chbosky and RJ Palacio." I look to my right, and there they are. Two of the most amazing middle and YA authors of our time. But Stephen isn't just an author. He's also a screenwriter and director. Maybe you've heard of a little movie called Beauty and the Beast? Yeah, he directed that.
Both of us are sitting there, obviously fangirling and obsessing over whether we should go talk to them. Stephen was on a phone call that did not sound pleasant, and we didn't want to be associated with a negative phone call. So we waited until he walked away and went up to RJ, who is much less intimidating but amazingly kind! We start throwing praises on her because as you all know (and if you don't, you should) how wonderfully amazing Wonder is. We start talking to her about our books just as Stephen comes back up and joins the conversation.
The rest is kind of a blur... Stephen offered us his four point advice to young writers, which I both wrote down and recorded. He signed my napkin with the advice and wrote "You are infinite!" Perks fans will get the reference.
BUT THEN he asked Dave and I to sign our business cards, and since my book is published, asked me to bring him a signed copy the next day. He asked me...for my book... Just let that sink in. It still hasn't sunk in for me...
All four of us took a picture together, then Stephen asked Dave and me if we were friends and handed us money. "Here, drinks are on me." Me, being the weird person that I am and knowing that some people don't like hugs, asked, "Can I give you a hug?" as my chest continued to get redder and redder. Then RJ and Stephen went to a publishing dinner.
Dave and I just sat down, looked at each other, then at my mom, and said, "What just happened?" BEA was wonderful, but that was by far the highlight of my entire summer thus far. I mean...WHAT?
**PS I got my book to Stephen. Both he and RJ remembered me. It was amazing. I got another hug.**
All this has a moral to it. Both days of BEA, Dave let me follow him around and meet some amazing people because David Arnold did that for him. Stephen listened to us because he cares about aspiring young authors and wants us to succeed. They're paying it forward. And one day, when I'm in their positions, I plan on paying it forward to a young, emerging author--introducing them to the amazing people I plan on befriending and buying them dinner in New York City, or wherever I come across them.
A message to all the writers out there--these authors that you hold on pedestals, they were you once. They want you to write and succeed. So keep writing, keep pushing, and one day, pay it forward.