When I go to book signings, I'm usually too shy to talk to the authors and ask them questions about their books, even though I want to. But if I could speak to them one on one, it'd be different.
If I could sit and talk with Dave Barry, I'd tell him that he was the first humor writer I ever read. His work inspired me to try to write stuff that made people laugh so hard their drinks came out of their noses.
If I could sit and talk with Ruth Reichl, I'd ask her how the people like her ex-husband and former friends felt about the ways she portrayed them in her memoirs. I'd ask for advice on how to portray people who hurt me without provoking them to yell, "It's ON now!" before chasing me down the street while hurling my book at my head.
If I could sit and talk with Beverly Cleary, I'd tell her how I read and reread her Ramona Quimby books when I was a little girl, and how I once got in trouble with my teacher for signing my name followed by "Age 8," like Ramona did.
If I could sit and talk with Jen Lancaster, I'd talk with her about the most annoying people in Chicago, like the neighbors who blast their music so loud in the middle of the night that I want to post fake eviction notices on their doors the next morning.
If I could sit and talk with Amy Tan, I'd tell her that one of the greatest moments in my life was when I told her how excited I was to meet her at a book signing, and she leaned back and said, "Thank you!" before smiling at me. I'd tell her that her descriptions of daughters' difficult relationships with their mothers made me feel less alone, because it always seemed to me that everyone else's relationships with their mothers were so much better.
If I could sit and talk with Stephen King, I'd tell him that I made the mistake of watching the film version of his book Children of the Corn on a farm surrounded by cornfields. I was so terrified that I kept looking around at the fields and shrieking, "The evil children are coming out of the fields! I can see them! AAAAAHHHH!" And then I'd ask him if his writing ever scares him.
If I could sit and talk with Jhumpa Lahiri, I'd say that I love the way she describes loneliness (even though she rarely uses the word "lonely") without any of the usual cliches. She does it in a way that many people, including me, can recognize the same signs in our own lives, like in her story "This Blessed House," with her description of the man who only used the top fork and knife in his silverware drawer.
If I could sit and talk with Judy Blume, I'd tell her that I had to hide her young adult books from my mother, due to the depictions of puberty and sex. My mother wouldn't even let me watch the movie My Girl, because she thought the one-second kiss between Macaulay Culkin and Anna Chlumsky would inspire me to get pregnant before junior high.
If I could sit and talk with Emily Gould, I'd tell her that she writes like a true New Yorker, and how much I envy her for living in New York. I live in a small Southern town where everyone apparently goes to bed by 9 P.M. and people drive around with large Confederate flags flying from their pickup trucks.
Most of all, if I could sit and talk with all of these writers, I'd sit back and listen to them talk about writing and books, and I'd feel happy just to be with them.
What about you? If you could sit and talk with a writer that you admire, what would you say?
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