So my life is officially surreal, y’all.
Not that I didn’t already know this, but every once in a while the truth of this is brought home to me even more forcefully than usual. Like, for instance, this past Monday evening, where I spent several hours in a Barnes and Noble across from Lincoln Center in New York City, signing books. That I didn’t write.
I would like to state for the record that this was totally not my idea, by the way. The blame for this can be laid squarely at the feet of one Harriet McDougal, who is diabolical and sneaky, and apparently made anyone to whom Towers of Midnight is dedicated who was also foolish enough to show up at one of the signings on the tour, sit down and sign books along with Brandon, Maria, Alan, and Harriet herself. This was not embarrassing at all.
I’d also like to thank my other dedicatees for totally failing to warn me this was going to happen. Y’all’re pals, really.
So, yes, embarrassment galore. But, it was also a great deal of fun.
The event started a bit early for me and the lovely folks who were the Tower Guards for the NYC signing, as we met up at Tor’s offices downtown beforehand for coffee, cookies, and hobnobbing with Team Jordan. I enjoyed this part particularly because this time I actually made it to this part, instead of, you know, completely forgetting the date like last time and thus being almost two hours late. Phear my new and improved calendar-reading skillz, y’all!
Lots of discussion occurred betwixt Brandon and the TGs about the new book, natch, much of which I unfortunately missed because I was busy being obnoxious and making everyone there sign my book (which, by the way, officially makes ToM the first book I’ve ever gotten signed. Seriously) and also chatting with Harriet and Alan and Maria and the wonderful Tom Doherty at length about… er, random stuff, really. Because they are awesome to chat with about anything.
I did manage to give Brandon crap about his Glossary-entry skills, which only made him grin in unrepentant glee, and apparently there was some kind of ToM-related joke made at my expense but no one would tell me what it was. Brandon and Maria both told me they had read and enjoyed my review of the book (warning for spoilers), which of course was immensely flattering; Maria had especially liked the part where I told Team Jordan I hated them, heh. Anything else specifically book-related has, sadly, flown from my head, so I am no help there, but you can take my word that it was all quite delightful.
Then everyone broke for dinner, before heading to the Barnes and Noble across from Lincoln Center, which is sadly closing before too much longer. I hate when bookstores close. The turnout there was somewhere in the arena of four hundred or so people, which is very nice for a Monday evening in New York from what I can gather.
Harriet began by reading an excerpt from the book (Lan’s POV from the Prologue; everyone chuckled at the bits about Nynaeve), and then Brandon spoke for a bit, first conducting a Q&A in which the “RAFO” was liberally employed because people were trying to be sneaky, heh, and then mostly to humbly thank everyone who had helped him with the book (and to point out the unexpected presence of Charlaine Harris in the audience, who Brandon jokingly described as “having written some obscure series about vampires no one’s ever heard of”).
He then embarrassed the hell out of me by pointing me out as one of those to whom the book is dedicated, and announcing that I would be signing books along with himself, Harriet, Maria, and Alan. I’m pretty sure I went beet-red at the time; hell, I’m pretty sure I’m blushing again now just thinking about it.
(Understand, of course, that I in NO WAY mean to imply that I am not completely tickled and honored by the appreciation Brandon and Team Jordan have shown me, because I totally am. I’m just also, well, embarrassed by it. There’s a whole essay in here about the strangeness of the Big Name Fan phenomenon (because I don’t think there’s any point in pretending that that’s not what’s going on here) that is not appropriate to get into at the moment but which I’ll probably have to ruminate on at some point.)
Anyway, the actual signing portion of the signing went off without a hitch as far as I could tell, thanks in large part to the Tower Guards, who kept the lines moving efficiently and capably, while at the same time providing entertainment to the folks in line with giveaways and trivia contests. (I think at least one question of which stumped both Maria and Alan, heh). I’d say at least half the people there clearly had absolutely no idea who I was or why this random chick was signing their book, but they were all very nice about it regardless, and there were also more than a couple of people who told me they enjoyed the Re-read and/or the WOTFAQ (which was my first foray into letting WOT fandom eat my life), which is always awesome to hear.
Brandon received (with great pleasure) a whole slew of Magic: The Gathering cards from various fans, which I understand is something of an ongoing tradition for him, and he was also especially delighted when Tower Guard Joseph Armao brought out his collection of handmade Wheel of Time action figures, which were amazing and wonderful in their attention to detail. Mat and Rand in particular were very well done, and Nynaeve as well. There are probably pictures of them floating about somewhere on the internet, from Brandon himself if nowhere else. One couple brought a beautiful poster-sized version of the Randland map which Jordan himself had signed, and they had Brandon and Harriet and Maria and Alan sign it too. That was really neat.
I do regret a bit that I was so thoroughly distracted by the surreality of the “me signing books” thing that I managed to not retain a single question or answer from the evening that actually, you know, concerns the Wheel of Time, because sometimes I really fail at this whole Fan thing, I swear. (I’m sure I’ll remember a whole bunch of things the moment this post goes up, heh.) I console myself, though, that there were many other people there who were paying much better attention, and who perhaps may surface in the comments to point y’all toward places these tidbits of info may be listed.
Anyway, all told the whole thing went on for about four hours before the line wound down, and if I was tired after doing this just one time I can’t even imagine how Team Jordan felt after doing it eight times in a row, but you’d never have known it from their energy and graciousness to everyone who came up to them.
It was, in sum, a completely lovely evening, I think for everyone involved but certainly for me, and I am deeply grateful to Tor for putting it together and to Team Jordan for being, well, Team Jordan. Cheers, guys; you did good.
Leigh Butler is a writer and blogger for Tor.com, where she conducts the Wheel of Time Re-read, which is currently complete through Winter’s Heart, and which is due to start up again as soon as her hand uncramps from such unexpected pen use. Ow. She currently lives in New York City.