So, earlier I wrote about the fact that Sarah Waters visited my local library here in Sweden, which I didn’t think would happen in a million years! I thought I would tell you a bit about that occasion.
The 14th of April it was happening, Sarah Waters was coming to Uppsala! I couldn’t believe my luck and was very excited of course. The night before, I wondered which book I should take with me if there would be a booksigning, should it be Tipping the Velvet, or The Little Stranger? Or The Paying Guests? Which one is the easiest to share my feelings about if I get a chance to talk to her? (And what should I wear? Is it very obsessive of me to think about that too? etc)
I eventually chose The Little Stranger. The English Bookshop in town arranged the occasion and the event was hosted at the local library, where an interview would be held and afterwards the audience would have a chance to ask questions.
The evening started with Waters reading the wonderful excerpt from The Paying Guests where Francis talks to Lily Barber for the first time and is confronted with the everyday intimacy she as host and they as lodgers now will share. I felt like a beaming light-bulb during the reading, because I had watched another interview with her on youtube a while ago where she had read the same excerpt for the audience and all I could think was ‘Oh, my God. This is really happening!!!’.
Then came a very interesting and good interview, where the focus of the talk was The Paying Guests (recently translated into Swedish), and where the discussion went onwards to queer womens’ stories and place in history, ‘hidden history’, class, and to be a woman in post-war England during the 20’s. It was illuminating, engaging, everything you could wish for in an authors’ talk!
And afterwards there was a booksigning, and of course I had already imagined what great things I would say, how we would have a short but engaging conversation about the book and have a moment of great understanding, because of course that is what happens when you love a book and meet the author of that loved book, right??
Well, not necessarily. I overheard my two friends speak to her in the relaxed and calm way I hoped I would soon be doing (although afterwards both confessed they were really nervous and didn’t feel they said anything important), and then the turn came to me, and I was a bit overwhelmed, and then immediately longued into what I hoped was a quick but enlightening and intelligent explanation of what I liked about The Little Stranger. When I was finished there was a pause and then she politely reminded me why I had given her the book; ‘Your name, please’, and I thought, of course, and started spelling it out but, as I realized later, somehow, SOMEHOW, I managed to forget how ‘i’ in English is pronounced and just went with the Swedish pronounciation (which is the same as an English ‘e’). So, naturally, she signed the book with a personal greeting to ‘Noeme’. And then it was all over.
(Afterwards I thought, I probably said things she had heard before and sometimes you’re just a person in a line and that’s okay, maybe she just wanted to be done with it, and this is not personal at all, and besides, she’s a beloved author and is probably used to idolization, and isn’t it kind of weird that we idolize people, I mean everybody is only human, and why should anyone heap a ton of expectations on a small moment etc.)
Of course, in hindsight, it probably wasn’t as anticlimactic as that, I mean I managed to tell her what I wanted. But I came to the conclusion that, at least for me, meeting an idol isn’t a good idea. It’s too much like meeting a crush when you’re a teenager and give everyday happenings a ridiculous amount of weight.
I’m really happy with adoring books and adoring authors at a distance, otherwise I’ll just have a ton of expectations that couldn’t possibly be fulfilled when meeting them in real life (and spell my name wrong).
How about you, have you ever met a favorite author, and how did you feel about it?