Other people can have their celebrity musicians and actors, but I’m starstruck by writers (and Stella McCartney, of course). Few experiences quicken my pulse like being in the same room with a beloved author, whether at a reading in an auditorium or at a cozy bookstore signing. But actually sitting down and conversing with a writer I admire? That really turns me into a slobbering fangirl.
So imagine the puddle of drool at my feet the other night when I hung out with Justin Cronin, the author of one of my favorite books, The Passage. He writes the kind of literary speculative fiction I can only dream of pulling off. The City of Mirrors, the final book in the Passage trilogy, came out this week. I’d been awaiting its release since finishing The Twelve in 2012. Four. Long. Years.
When I found out Justin was doing one of his first book signings for it here in Houston, I immediately made plans to attend. Even though he lives in Houston and has done numerous readings and signings here before, for various reasons, I’d been unable to attend those. Nothing was going to keep me from this one. As luck would have it, my friend Rudy (who is also my dentist) is a long-time friend of Justin’s (and also his dentist) and had been promising that he would make an introduction one day. Rudy and I agreed to meet at the bar where the signing would be held.
By the time my husband and I arrived at the signing this past Thursday night, the line to meet Justin snaked outside and around the corner. We headed straight inside because Rudy had assured me I’d still get to meet Justin and have my book signed. Inside, we were lucky to find a table. For almost two hours, we watched Justin shake hands, sign books, and pose for pictures. After he signed his last book and the crowd dissipated, Rudy waved him over (Justin’s delightful wife, Leslie, had already joined us).
Justin collapsed into a chair at our table, exhausted from being “on” for several hours. Yet, he talked with us for 45 minutes and seemed thrilled to do so. I told him The Passage got me through my home remodel in 2011 — I was so absorbed in the story I could barely hear the drilling and banging. He joked that my experience rivaled that of readers who’ve said his books got them through deployments in the Middle East. At one point, my husband outed me, telling Justin how nervous I was to meet him. Justin said, “All you had to do was come to Central Market. I’m there shopping in my shorts and flip-flops all the time.” If I’d only known!
After Justin left, I thanked Rudy profusely for keeping his promise. I still don’t know how I’ll repay him. In the meantime, I need to figure out if any of my other friends know Stephen King.