Since I started at BookEnds, I’ve been thinking a lot about my childhood and the books I read growing up (especially given the areas I’m representing!). I come from a very weird age group—older than “Gen X” but really not quite a “Millennial” either. I remember a time before technology, when you had to learn how to use a card catalogue in order to find a book at a library. Old enough to have listened to music first on records then cassettes then CDs and now on MP3s. I remember when macs had a 3” black & white screen and the most advanced game was seeing who died of dysentery in Oregon Trail.
There really wasn’t much in the “age appropriate” pile growing up, outside of Judy Blume (aw, yeah TALES OF A FOURTH-GRADE NOTHING) or The Baby-Sitter’s Club…there wasn’t much to read. Thus, I often read far above my age bracket.
But there was Goosebumps. I was just about to start third grade when WELCOME TO DEAD HOUSE came out. (For the uninitiated, that was the first book in R.L Stine’s creepy-as-hell paranormal MG series). I devoured them… and I still have ALL of my books in my basement back at my folks’ house. Goosebumps gave way to the Fear Street series. Later my cousin introduced me to Christopher Pike. These were the “YA” books of my generation and I was reading toward the end of elementary school and into middle school.
This year at BEA, I had the supreme honor of getting to meet R.L. Stine.
I won’t lie. I turned into an utter fangirl. I had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to thank him for the books that I grew up reading. The books I read with a flashlight under the covers. Ten-year-old me couldn’t even imagine being in a position where I could meet an actual author!
With the friends I have (sorry, no bragging here!), it takes a lot to get me star-struck. Through things like conventions, anyone can have the opportunity to meet their heroes—literary or otherwise. I had a chance to meet Stephen Lawhead a few years ago. I mourn the fact that Tom Clancy passed before I got the chance to thank him for the books I read all through high school.
But you know what? It’s okay to fangirl when you meet legends like this (just don’t turn creepy and respect boundaries of course!). Because when there’s a person like that who has had such a profound effect on your life, it’s the best feeling in the world to tell someone “my life was changed because of you.” Not only that, but it means the world to them to know their words and their works have made a difference in someone else’s life.
So I pose to you guys reading — who is your “literary hero” you’d love to meet and why?