I have always loved book fairs. Big ones spread out over acres of a university campus, small ones on the playground of an urban community center -- doesn't matter. Even when my kids were tiny, and the main attraction for them was the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile (seriously, L.A. Times Festival of Books?), and I didn't get to hear a single panel, I was there.
Put me into a scene with readers and writers and books, and I'm happy.
And now that I've actually written books, and I get to be on panels, if I didn't have a complete terror of a performance fail, I'd be blissed out. Which is why it's probably a good thing that a performance fail happened. Yes it did. Yesterday, at the West Hollywood Book Fair, when I was on the best contemporary YA panel (Sarah Skilton, Carol Tanzman, me, and Steph Kuehn with excellent moderator Amy Spaulding) Amy mentioned that my first novel, Where It Began, has the theme of responsibility.
The theme of responsibility?!?!?!?! Well, I mean, it does, but I'd never actually considered that it does. So I mumphed. I had a tongue cleaves to roof of utterly dry mouth, brain freeze, idiot Bambi in the headlights moment. Then, to make things even more delightful, I said I was having a tongue cleaves to roof of dry mouth etc. moment. And then, the way Where It Began addresses the issue of taking responsibility for who you are, and who you want to become occurred to me and there was a semi-good save. Or, at least, a save.
And the thing is, no one got up and walked away, no one booed, no one clutched her throat and fell writhing to the ground. I didn't die. The panel went on. It was interesting and fun. It was a conversation with other writers who care about YA, an opportunity to hear them read from their books and share ideas.
I look forward to the Vegas Valley Book Fair in a panic-free state.