Thursday, July 16, 2009

Report from the Stacks (ALA 2009)

Unlike some people, I find it difficult to blog AT a convention. Let alone tweet. I mean, there’s too much conventioning to do. Plus my spouse was along, and he took up those snippets of time usually devoted to blogging. (Notice how I deflect blame?)
So now I’m home and blogging instead of tackling the BIG REVISION.
Chicago is a great city. My visit was a combination of business, pleasure, and pain. We got the pain over with early. That was the five-hour flight delay that cost us our first day in Chicago. Seems Continental forgot that they’d need a crew to fly the plane.
Our hotel was great, though—the Trump Tower Hotel.

We got a deal on the price, it was in a fabulous location, the room was huge, and it had a stovetop, dishwasher, microwave, and a refrigerator you could actually put things into. With a built-in ice maker. The service was gracious, but not stuffy. Imagine that—a luxury hotel that goes out of its way to make guests comfortable.

We went and saw the Harry Potter exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. It was focused on the movies (one of the guides said they weren’t supposed to talk about the books because it is sponsored by Warner Brothers). It included lots of props and costumes, such as Harry’s wand and Professor Mcgonigal’s dress robes, and recreated settings including Hagrid’s Hut and the Great Hall of Hogwart’s.

We also visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House and the Chicago Art Institute.
My ALA experience began with the Voya/Scarecrow Press reception for Perfect Tens and Top Shelf Fiction. (Voya named The Dragon Heir a “perfect ten.”) And, frankly, that is the only way I’ll ever qualify.
Then we went to a “Newbery banquet alternative dinner” at Aria organized by the awesome Nancy Werlin . Visited with Kindling Words buddies Laura Rubie, Toni Buzzeo, and Frannie Billingsley. Web designer Lisa Firke and authors Delia Sherman and Annette Curtis Klause were also there.
After dinner, we headed over to the Sheraton to hear the awards speeches. All the chairs were filled, so we ended up sitting on a platform at the back of the room.
We arrived just in time for Caldecott winner Beth Krommes’s speech and heard Neil Gaiman (Newbery Award for The Graveyard Book) and Ashley Bryan (winner of the Laura Ingalls Wilder award). Gaiman’s speech was especially moving. He described himself as a feral child raised amid the stacks by librarians. I congratulated Krommes outside the ladies’ room and she let me hold her Caldecott medal. It was weighty. And I shook Gaiman’s hand in the receiving line and told him his speech was fantastic. “Really?” he said. “I was kind of nervous about it.”
Maybe greatness rubs off.

The next day was my signing. I spent the morning chasing key ARCs and buying a few books (still no Going Bovine, alas). Arrived at the Disney-Hyperion booth to find out they were already out of ARCs of The Demon King. Signed Heir series books and met lots of people I’d only met online before.

Librarians rock! Seriously.

1 comment:

Nora MacFarlane said...

Sounds like a fabulous trip!