This is a stack of envelopes and neatly (all right, not that neatly) filled out customs declarations for Afterparty ARC's that are going to overseas bloggers. Through a highly circuitous route, Simon & Schuster very kindly mails these ARC's to me and then I mail them to Malaysia.
Not all of them; the bulk are destined for Canada -- which is, I realize, not overseas no matter how vast Lake Michigan looks from its southern shore.
People who simply don't get the Young Adult blog world look at me in wonder and ask, very slowly, in tones generally reserved for questions posed to complete idiots, "So. You're mailing it to India? Hmmmm." Because I am. Because the YA blog world is, indeed, a world. (This notion hits home when, as a Los Angeles-based writer, you notice that one of your books is way more popular and widely available in the public libraries of Singapore than brances of you own beloved LAPL.)
I don't know if there ever was an epoch when the literary opinions of people in one's own country were taken seriously while those of readers in other countries were dismissed, but I can tell you that that epoch isn't now. Not only has the internet made communications between readers from different countries extremely easy, but half the time I have no idea where the blog I'm reading originates.
As for books, we seem to have fallen into a period of great mutual interest plus the realization that the fact that a character calls the wooly knitted thing she wears over her blouse "a jumper" and not "a sweater" (or has dozens of juicy epithets I've never heard before for the fools of her acquaintance) will not cause readers in Los Angeles, to throw up our hands in uncomprehending despair and confusion, or to hurl the book against the wall because we can't imagine what a girl in a jumper could possibly have in common with a girl in a city where it's so warm out that we hardly even need to wear wooly things over our blouses.
Anyway, as I was standing in line at the post office in Century City -- where Emma and Siobhan from Afterparty play some highly disturbing underage drinking games -- I found myself wondering what readers in the Philippines would make of it all. And I realized that the responses there would be as individual as the responses here. Which means, I guess, that I -- and I think the rest of the YA blog world, pretty much -- have reached a post-national, post-stereotyping stage of hearing what each other have to say as unique, opinionated book-lovers.
And that, dear friends who don't get why I stood in line forever on the very day that business taxes had to be postmarked (a mistake) and the two postal workers decided it would be a good idea to close the postal branch and take a half hour break simultaneously (another mistake), is why I waited there with a bag full of padded envelopes addressed to bloggers in five different countries.