Let me set the stage for you. Imagine a glitzy awards banquet in the heart of New York City. Luminaries of the thriller genre are scattered throughout the room. Wine flows. Silverware clinks. And behind a blue velvet curtain, slightly nervous writers are lined up to present awards for the best novels of the year.
I am one of the slightly nervous authors. Make that very nervous, because contrary to popular belief (and seriously, people, WHAT gives you this impression? Apparently I missed my calling in Hollywood) I am not a ham, or at all comfortable behind a microphone.
So I sit, fiddling with the fringe of my skirt, worrying about tripping, or dropping the award on the winner's foot, or the myriad other ridiculous scenarios parading through my head. I look up, and there is Anne Rice.
She sits quietly in a chair, seemingly wrapped in a black velvet cloak. She is small, pale, with large, expressive, dark eyes. She is politely listening to the speechmaking going on (Brad Meltzer was taking down the house.) She is a Guest of Honor, is receiving an award. Her adorable son Chris, a brilliant writer in his own right, stands behind her.
I am seized by opportunity. I must speak to her. Anne Rice is more than a brilliant writer, she is a legend. I own all of her books. I've been reading her for decades. The Mayfair Witches are a particular favorite.
I stand. I'm wearing pretty high heels, so I'm about 6'3" right now. I start across the small aisle, a wide smile plastered on my face. I draw closer, and the voice of our coordinator pops in my head. She'd drummed into us these dreadful words - DO NOT SPEAK BEHIND THE CURTAIN. THE AUDIENCE CAN HEAR YOU!
Inner Monologue: Oh, God. I'm about to meet Anne Rice. She's so pretty. What do I say? I'm your biggest fan? No, that didn't work out so well last time I used it. I love your work? You're a brilliant writer? Thank you for coming to Thrillerfest? JT! DON'T TALK OUT LOUD THEY WILL HEAR YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CURTAIN. Shit. Shit shit shit.
And I'm now looming over Anne Rice, bent at the waist, my face three inches from hers. She looks at me expectantly. And I freeze. I flat out bloody freeze. A heartbeat. Two. Three. Four.
Finally, I manage:
in a breathy whisper, thinking thank God you haven't had a drink, you'd breathe alcohol all over the woman, and scurried back to my seat. Then I was up, and ran on stage, did my piece, kicked a light stand as I left, though people swore to me they didn't realize it.
Fan girl strikes again.
I am not the first to get tongue tied in the presence of a literary hero, not will I be the last. But it makes for a funny story. Hopefully, one day I'll be able to meet her again, and will make real words come forth.
Then again, this is me we're talking about.
*many thanks to bff Laura Benedict for the cartoon. you GET me.*