I like authors. I even like their books. As a fifty-year-old teenager I like children’s and young adults’ authors best. Maybe it’s because their books are still not always considered “proper” books, that they have maintained a sense of proportion.
If I write them a fan letter or email I tend to get a reply back. What’s more, they often sound both surprised and grateful that someone wrote in to say their book is very good. You’d think they hear it all the time. I have even had personal emails later on to let me know that the next book is out, in case I wanted to know.
It’s even relatively easy to get to meet authors, and not just after standing in a long queue at a book signing. My local bookshop, which was voted Children’s Independent Bookshop last year, organises quite a few special events, where I’ve met loads of lovely authors.
One of them I have since invited to my house, for what can best be termed literary Tupperware. My friends all came, the author entertained them with tales of her life and then signed books supplied by the shop. Andrew in the shop clearly thought I was mad, but everyone else could see what a good idea it was.
I used to volunteer in my children’s secondary school library, where we had an “Author of the term”. If we were lucky the author would come and visit, and I could never understand how they sometimes told horror stories of other school visits where they would not be looked after or appreciated. We’d be excited for days and plan the whole visit very carefully. On one occasion I had a go at bribing an author to come, as the school had no money for his fee. Speaking of money, that tends to be what the children are interested in. When the question “How much money do you earn?” doesn’t get answered, they want to know what kind of car they drive. Only a Fiesta?
While on the subject of money, this liking authors and their books doesn’t come cheap. Five years ago I’d happily buy books the cheapest way possible. I still go to charity shops for books, but now I also go for first edition hardbacks, rather than wait for the paperback edition. So my bank balance isn’t what it used to be.
Proofs are always welcome. Last year Meg Rosoff, who is very lovely indeed, promised me a proof of her new book. Only, the publisher ran out of copies. Gave them to the wrong people, more like. So Meg set about buying one on ebay, put there by one of the wrong people. Pearls before swine, I say.
That’s what I like about authors. Buying their own books on ebay to keep a fan happy. The number one fan, admittedly, but anyway.