11 Author Horror Stories That'll Give You Secondhand Embarrassment
"I yelled at Suzanne Collins at her Mockingjay launch event."
We asked Yallwest authors what's the most embarrassing thing they've said or done in front of an author they admire. Here are their stories.
"Gregory Maguire — he did Wicked — invited me over to dinner. Lois Lowry was going to be there too. Anyway, I was pretty nervous. So I go to this dinner and it actually turns out they're such lovely people and we had a wonderful time. As I'm driving home I'm thinking, Wow, this went really, really well. But as I'm getting dressed for bed, I discover that I have a GIANT brown stain all over my butt, dripping down the back of my legs. I'd been on the T in Boston earlier that day, and I think I sat in someone's coffee. And I'd had a giant wet coffee stain throughout the whole dinner."
—M.T. Anderson, author of Feed and many others
"At Books of Wonder, I yelled at Suzanne Collins at her Mockingjay launch event. I was like, 'THANK YOU FOR COMING!!!!!' I thanked her for coming to her own launch. She was just like, 'uh…thank you for coming!' I was very aggressive with my gratitude."
—Adam Silvera, author of More Happy Than Not
"Last weekend, I was speaking in front of kids — a crowd of 8- and 9-year-olds — and they asked me, 'What writing superpower would you have?' Instantly I was like, 'Oh, I would have written Fifty Shades of Grey.' All the parents were horrified, and all the kids were like 'Fifty Shades of Grey? Is that a book?'"
—Soman Chainani, author of the School for Good and Evil books
"In 1997, I read Kate Bornstein's Gender Outlaws, and it was the first time I'd experienced gender queerness on the page. I was like, this is me, this is me, this is me! So then the next year, we got her to come speak at my school. It was amazing. But she was supposed to have a mirror for her dressing room, which was just going to be in a classroom. I was like, 'I'll just bring my mirror for her.' Before I had to go pick her up, I was just like carrying this giant mirror. It was windy out, and the mirror went DOWN, out in public, and smashed everywhere — shattered COMPLETELY. Then I basically ended up having a panic moment with her trying to explain why I didn't have her mirror."
–Alex Gino, author of George
"I ran up to Terry McMillan as a kid in Washington, D.C. She was doing a signing for How Stella Got Her Groove Back. So I'm there, and I don't know how to get published. I'm maybe 15 or 16 years old, but I have a packet of poetry I'd been writing. I remember walking up to her with this packet of poems and saying, 'Hi Terry, hopefully you can help me get published,' and I gave her the packet of poems and she was like, Oh, thanks, kid. Now that I'm on the other side, looking back I'm like, Wow, what an awkward thing to do. I didn't even have anything for her to sign at her signing."
"The first time I met Laini Taylor, I told her I was a writer too and she asked me what I wrote. So I told her about it and she was very casually like, 'Oh, if you have an advanced reader copy I'd love to read it.' And I TOTALLY took her up on her offer, even though I'm sure she was just being nice. But I was so excited, so I ran and got one to give it to her. Upon reflection I was like, wow, that was so embarrassing. What were you doing, Sabaa?"
—Sabaa Tahir, author of An Ember in the Ashes
"I knew I was going to be on a panel with Lev Grossman (I'm a really big fan of Magicians) so I sent him an email ahead of time saying, 'Hey, I just wanted to get this out of the way, but I'm a really big fan of yours.' I carried my book around until I got to meet him, and he signed it. I had, like, five minutes of conversation planned, but then I ended up sitting next to him all night. Which I didn't expect. I feel like I just said dumb stuff all night long. I actually ended up seeing him at Yallfest — another book festival — and I didn't say anything to him."
"I finished reading Look at Me by Jennifer Egan, and I immediately emailed her as soon as I finished it. It was a two-sentence email and it had, like, three typos. I also mentioned I was a writer, and she probably read it and thought, Yeah, good luck, kid.''
"Lauren Strasnick writes really great contemporary, and I read her first book when I was living in Chicago. I met her at a party, and I was super nervous. Our friend Robin introduced us and I was like, 'HI. FIRST OF ALL, I HAVE TO TELL YOU I'M OBSESSED WITH YOUR BOOKS. I THINK YOU'RE THE COOLEST. THAT'S IT. NICE TO MEET YOU.' I was so aggressive! There was no need for me to be so up front. I could have worked that into the conversation later."
—Brandy Colbert, author of Pointe
Note: Some of these responses have been edited for length/clarity.