Hello hello hello! Throughout my time in Ireland, my classmates and I wrote and workshopped a number of short creative nonfiction pieces about our time there. When given the prompt of “arrival,” I spun it into an essay about waiting in line (for hours!) to meet my favorite author, Derek Landy, and the moment when I finally arrived at the head of the line.
I eventually expanded that piece and connected it with another one about Dublin Pride, with the link being how much I missed my best friend and wished she were there with me for both experiences. I’ve removed the part about Pride since you’ve already seen it, but left the transition in. (I hope it’s not too jarring!). I’m so proud of this essay. I had a wonderful time meeting Landy and writing/revising this piece so much really helped me to further process the experience!
I was only minutes away from being face-to-face with my favorite author. I had arrived at Derek Landy’s book signing hours earlier and waited, with varying levels of patience, as the long line of his fans snaked in and out and around the shelves of the bookshop, slithering ever closer to the table where the author himself sat.
He looked just like he did in the author picture in the back of his books – blocky glasses, messy red hair, rumpled clothes – and yet somehow seeing him in person was entirely different.
He had a deep, booming voice and an even deeper laugh. I didn’t know what he was laughing about, but I did know that he had laughed during his conversation with each fan who stepped up to meet him.
As excited as I was to be there at that exact moment, I couldn’t help but wish my best friend was right there with me. I missed her – and besides, as the person who had recommended Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series to me all those years ago, I felt she should be there with me. But she was in Germany right now on a study abroad program of her own.
I would make it up to her, though, by buying her a copy of his latest book. We’d been anticipating it for months, from texts back and forth as soon as the title was announced to a blurry, giddy Skype call when the cover was revealed. Imagine our joy when we realized my time in Dublin coincided with his book tour. All I had to do was hop on a bus to headed from the UCD campus to downtown.
That was this past winter. Now it was June and I couldn’t believe the moment was finally really here.
My thoughts were interrupted as Derek Landy, finished with the previous fan, turned toward me in his chair. Suddenly, there in front of me was my favorite author.
“Your turn! Hello there!” he boomed out.
I set my stack of books down on the table and shakily inhaled. What I wanted to say to him, what I wanted to thank him for, could probably fill the pages of a small book, but I was still too dazed to say much. I wanted to say that he had inspired me to not give up my dream of writing for children, that his books brought my friend and I closer together, that his stories made me laugh even during some of the most depressed times of my life.
Instead I stammered out, “Hi, you’re my favorite author, could you please sign my books?”
He signed my battered copy of his first book (Skulduggery Pleasant: Sceptre of the Ancients) and my pristine, just-bought-today copy of his latest work (Skulduggery Pleasant: Resurrection).
His scrawl was now one of my favorite things he’d ever written.
Because it was addressed to me.
Behind me, those who were still in line chattered on, eager for their turn, their voices rising with excitement as though a chorus stood next to me.
Derek peered at the Post-It note inside the third book, the one with a different name written on it. “Who’s M?” he asked.
I beamed. “My best friend! She recommended your books to me years ago. I’m getting her Resurrection as an early birthday present.”
He wondered why she wasn’t here with me, and I explained that she was in her own study abroad program, just a few countries away in Germany.
“Well, it sounds like she has good taste in books!” he winked. “I’d love to meet her someday. You should bring her to another signing.”
“That’s the dream, isn’t it?” I said, beaming. I’m talking to my favorite author as though he were a long-time friend, I thought. This is so ridiculous it’s unreal. But Derek had that way with people: He struck up a conversation with each one as though he’d known them forever. It made the lines at his signings move incredibly slowly – I’d been waiting for two and a half hours just to get up to the front – but it was totally worth it. He made everyone feel special, laughed at their jokes and comments in such a way that everyone came away feeling on top of the world.
“Do you want a picture?” Derek asked. He hammed it up for the camera, striking a Charlie’s Angels pose and inviting me to do the same. I’d seen him do the same with every person before me, somehow communicating a look-at-us-we’re-partners-in-crime vibe that felt new to each fan no matter how many times he’d repeated it.
Again, as happy as I was to be there, I wanted my best friend there with me. She’d been reading his books ever since she was a little girl, one by one as they were released, while I hadn’t started them until I was almost seventeen, by which point the Skulduggery Pleasant series was complete and I was able to binge-read. I felt she deserved this opportunity more than I did.
As soon as I left the bookstore, I texted her pictures of the event and told her just that.
This wasn’t the last time I wished M was on this trip with me…