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Book Expo ’14 off to a Great Start

May 29, 2014

My first full day at the Book Expo was full of all the things that delight me most about it: I heard about new and interesting books, and got my hands on a nice stack of them. I got to wander the rows of booths, staring happily and a little dazedly at all the titles on offer. I made new friends, and reconnected with old friends. I got to be a giddy fangirl. There were tasty snacks. There were unexpected surprises. And for every book I got into my hands, I think I heard about at least four I didn’t know existed, and I definitely want to read. (That last is a mixed blessing. I don’t know what I’ll actually do if and when I catch up with my reading. There is no danger of this actually happening.)

I began on Wednesday at an Editor’s Buzz panel, which I always find a good place to start, learning about a small selection of titles, in depth, and then getting galleys of those titles. To be perfectly honest, the getting of the galleys is a little daunting. It can be a bit of a scrum! But emerged unscathed, with the start of a nice stash of books. (Will post book list as a separate post.)

This morning, a YA editors panel, where I found Mahnaz, a friend and former library school classmate- getting to catch up with her briefly was a nice surprise! I helped her come up with interview questions for Jane Yolen but declined her kind invite to sit in on that interview, out of a fear that I would be too giddy and might blither. This turned out to be a rather valid fear. More on that shortly. I also found Hilary, who is my absolute favorite BEA partner in crime. (And not just because she has an unerring sense of direction and a keen eye for book giveaways.)

Photo of Elizabeth Willse and John Francis

Me and John Francis

While she and I were roving the floor in search of books, totes, snacks and interesting conversations, my phone rang. To my surprise, it was none other than John Francis, a family friend I’ve known since I was four. He’s the author of two books (thus, the Book Expo) and does pretty amazing work, worldwide for environmental education. He and his family are really outstanding people. So we found ourselves a quiet spot and got a chance to catch up, which was terrific. And then I dragged him into the giddy chaos of roving the exhibit floor and finding review copies for a bit. Seeing the Book Expo through his eyes made me realize how hyper I can get when I’m frolicking among the books, especially since he’s a mellow and laid back sort, generally. Bit of a contrast, but he was game for a bit of book browsing, which was nice of him.

Photo of Jane Yolen and Elizabeth Willse

Jane Yolen!!!

Unexpected and delightful meetings with people were a bit of a theme for the day, in fact. With John in tow, I wound up meeting and being a giddy fangirl to: Jane Yolen, and then Joyce Saricks. Entirely by chance, in both cases. I hadn’t read the program fully enough to realize Jane Yolen had a new book out until Mahnaz mentioned interviewing her. And, when I wandered by the booth, they were out of books, to my dismay. When I voiced my dismay, the nice publishing people said “You can say hi to her if you like!”

The fact that I had to linger a moment, waiting for her to finish a conversation was a mixed blessing. Not sure whether it let me work myself into an even giddier state or compose myself from being incoherent. Jane Yolen couldn’t have been nicer or more gracious though.

I also had a completely chance meeting with Joyce Saricks. A few minutes after starting a conversation with her, in fact. In search of the Librarians Lounge (one of my favorite spots at the Book Expo: a great place to find new librarian friends!) I found my way to the ALA/Booklist booth. And struck up a conversation about book reviewing with the nice librarian working the booth. And dropped my gaze to her badge as we conversed.

image of Joyce Saricks and Elizabeth Willse

Joyce Saricks

And then blurted out something smooth like “Oh my gosh! You’re Joyce Saricks! Appeal factors! I read your genre guide for a class at Pratt and I wish more book reviewers would read it!”

Which took her by surprise. But she was very gracious to me being a giddy fangirl at her. Her ideas make such excellent sense. She’s like a readers’ advisory rock star! I also got a great kick out of watching Joyce and John talk about his work. Because one of my favorite things is when people I like and admire find reasons to connect with each other.

In less completely surprising encounters, I also saw Kaite Stover, one of my favorite librarians, who is a readers’ advisory rock star as well, and who has been my guide into the librarian world of BEA in the past. I found a few librarians from Darien Library (I have got to arrange to visit there and meet with them for informational interviews.) I met Deborah Harkness, author of the absolute best discussion of vampire fiction ever. And I got to tell her that, which entertained her.

I’ve been stretched out on my couch, admiring my pile of books and grinning, thinking about the wonderful day today has been, and looking forward to more tomorrow and Saturday.

Book list to come.


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