One day I was talking to my dear friend, Rachel (who also happens to be Mike's cousin), and she couldn't stop raving about her new favorite book, The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. The thought suddenly occurred to me, Hey, in my life before school, I used to like to read! And so I decided to pick it up. (And Rachel generously loaned me her copy, which I found out later was the ultimate bestowal of trust since she keeps her books in mint condition. She later got that copy signed and told me that she would never loan it out ever again.)
Reading The Goose Girl was the best experience I had had with books in a long time. I read it out loud to Mike, and I can remember literally squealing in anticipation when we got to the climax. (Mike, in case you were wondering, did NOT squeal...but he did laugh at me.)
And that is how I fell in love with Shannon Hale.
Now, six years later and having read practically everything written by her, you can imagine my excitement when I saw that she would be at The King's English with her brand-new book, Palace of Stone, the sequel to Princess Academy. I persuaded my good friend, Holli, to come with me, and it was, to wax a bit cheesy, everything I could have hoped for.
I have never heard Shannon Hale speak before, but I am an avid reader of her blog (and of course, her books), and so I was hoping she'd be as entertaining and personable in real life, and she was. Her editor spoke with her for part of the time, and they complemented each other very well. (And as a side note, as I listened to Shannon talk about writing, I didn't feel the desire to become a writer, but as I listened to Victoria, the editor, speak, I thought that maybe, in another life, I would have liked to do some editing.)
After they finished speaking (or rather, were told to stop speaking...I think they and the audience could have kept going for hours), Shannon signed copies of her books. Even standing in line was fun because I had a friend to talk to and new books to browse through. So yes, all in all, a very fun night out.
And in case you want a little more, these were some of my first impressions of Shannon Hale in real life: She is funny and witty with great comedic timing; she is mindful of her audience; she knows how to put a person at ease; I would love to have her as a friend; she doesn't brush aside questions that she's probably had hundreds of times (i.e., questions about publishing and her writing process); she tries to make a personal connection with each person she meets (much to the frustration of The King's English employees who tried in vain to move along the signing line); her love of writing and telling stories is obvious and real; she is kind and sincere (I especially noticed the extra-special attention she paid to the 8-14-year-old crowd. They'll remember that forever.); she is humble and seems genuinely grateful for every one of her readers.
And as photographic proof of my star-struck evening:
A little blurry, but perfect just the same.
(Now just imagine a King's English employee glaring at me from the side at this uncalled for holdup to the line.)