In lighter news than the SFWA/Worldcon mess going on right now, my brother, sister, and I were all finally able to meet John C. Wright and L. Jagi Lamplighter today, at a book signing in Hamilton NJ.
The three of us had been driven over by our parents, a drive that took a little over an hour. They had agreed under the assumption that it was a typical book signing and we were going to go in, say hi, then leave within ten minutes.
Oops. Sorry, dad. If I’d known otherwise I’d have driven my own car.
The event was not like that at all.
The bookstore was charming. It was rather tiny and absolutely stuffed with old, used books. Paperbacks with bent spines lined the walls, which gave the whole place a very vintage flavor.
We had expected to see Mr. and Mrs. Wright sitting behind a counter with a stack of books next to them, and a line of readers in front of them (or perhaps trickling in and out).
We were very wrong. Instead of sitting behind a counter with a stack of books, we found the Wrights at the front of the store, next to the windows, talking animatedly with a small crowd of people who had set up chairs around them. As we stood awkwardly in the back Mrs. Wright spotted me, gave a huge grin and walked over to give me a hug, and took time out to say hi to my brother and sister as well.
(My sister had apparently gained a minor reputation as a mysterious figure always present in the background of our anthologies but rarely seen. The idea still amuses me.)
We had apparently walked directly into the middle of an animated and fascinating discussion about Rachel Griffin (we arrived an hour after it had started…remember, we thought it would just be a regular book signing!). It was cheering to be among people as passionate about these authors, and about nerdy sci-fi/fantasy stuff in general, as we were!
My impression of Mrs. Wright was that she was a ball of cheerful energy. She clearly loved the opportunity to talk with so many interested and like-minded people about her work, and her attitude was infectious. Mr. Wright was witty and friendly; he didn’t speak as much, but what he did say was as a rule always worth listening to. I was only somewhat surprised to learn that he had also seen the seldom-remembered “Titan A.E.”, and hated it (I remember liking it when I was younger but mostly for the visuals).
The discussion centered on the Rachel Griffin series (Mr. Wright’s “Count to Infinity” was not discussed all that much, though I recall Mr. Wright being very pleased when somebody compared the series to “Gurren Lagann”) but danced a merry dance through a variety of topics, from anime to western animation to fairy tales. Being an opinionated sort myself (haha, yes, that’s an understatement) I bit my tongue more than once to keep from interrupting people, but was happy to be able to have something to contribute to the discussion (and especially happy to have crammed Rachel Griffin the night before and on the ride over!). It was good to see that the people there with us clearly loved the series, and they were thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with the author in person!
Well, I can relate.
We did speak briefly about King Arthur, and “Tales of the Once and Future King”, and I was able to again express my love of the great Stephen Lawhead, one of the primary influences on “Tales” (anybody who has read his King Raven series can probably see a lot of that DNA in the forest kingdom of Elwood Brand). And my brother got to show off some of his semi-encyclopedic knowledge of western animation. Plus we all got to criticize “Frozen”, which is always fun.
Being me I of course managed to find a way to drag “Death Note” into the discussion (in my defense it was not the first anime that had been brought up, and besides, I DID try to use it to make a relevant point). When we finally had to leave an hour in (remember, our parents were waiting for us thinking we would be ten minutes!) I had the delightful experience of being stopped while getting my books signed by a young man who asked if I had written the article comparing “Death Note” to “Jessica Jones” on the Castalia House website. As it turns out, I did…and Mr. Wright had apparently read it as well, and liked it! Well, if it was actually my article he read…
Either way, next thing you know I’ll have to go out in a hood and dark sunglasses to avoid the paparazzi.
Before we left Mrs. Wright made sure to stop and plug “Tales of the Once and Future King” for us, which I had brought with me for her to sign. So that was nice as well.
Overall I have nothing but positive things to say about the Wrights. I can’t speak for anyone else in my family but I entered the bookstore quite nervous about meeting the people I had been communicating and working with for so long online, and left it in a better mood than I have been in quite some time. In fact, I was rather disappointed at having to leave early!
Alas, no photos. Well, I do have photos of the autographs, but they’re not all that interesting to look at.
Ah well, I have a feeling we’ll meet again one day…and perhaps other superversives as well, eh?