I get nervous around authors. Yes, I realize the irony implicit in this statement; I love it when people talk to me about my books and I can only assume that other authors feel the same way. But I still find it nerve-wracking to be on the other side of the signing table, as it were. I don’t want to come across as needy or weird or moronic or any number of other bad things. And my fears increase in proportion to just how much I loved the author’s book.
Case in point: last night I went to the BPL to hear Andrei Codrescu talk about his new book, The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara and Lenin Play Chess. I haven’t read the new book (which sounds interesting, because of/in spite of the fact that I know near to nothing about the Dada movement) but I read Codrescu’s novel The Blood Countess, about the one and only Countess Bathory – a creature close to my own heart as well, for all of her bloody malevolence. So after the reading I hung around for a bit, with a whole bunch of other people who wanted to approach him and say hello and talk to him and were too shy to do so. So I wasn’t the only shy one. What makes it funnier is that Codrescu couldn’t have been more friendly, more funny, more willing to chat with everyone…but that doesn’t erase the possibility of my own embarrassment.
So I dawdled, but finally when I saw that he and his entourage were gathering themselves to go (the man wanted his fish & chips) I walked over and said hello and told him about my book and agreed to send him a copy (let’s dwell on this for a moment: sending a copy of your own book to an author you admire who has also researched and written about this particular character…yeah, I’m just trying not to think about it too much.) Before I knew it, Mr. Codrescu was inviting me to join them for the aforementioned fish & chips. At first I said I couldn’t, but then I thought, good grief girlie, how often does this happen that this totally cool and fellow Bathory-inspired author invites you to join him and his crew out for dinner? So I joined them. Mind you, I am a shy person by nature. I feel like I’m just barely bold enough to get myself into these pretty amazing situations but not quite secure enough to be chatty and charming like a normal person would be. But it was still pretty awesome. Codrescu has written about Bathory so beautifully – even writing about her horrid atrocities so beautifully, and I love it when a writer can take the horrid and make it gothically gorgeous. We chatted about Bathory, about research, a lot about New Orleans, and bit about young adult literature. He informed me that writing about Bathory for a teenage audience is really quite scary – corrupting the minds of youth and all of that. And I agree.