When ALA in Anaheim came around, The Evolution of Mara Dyer was the only arc I wanted. I would have give up everything else to have gotten that one book. Alas, they weren't giving them out. Flash forward to September and Kristin had tweeted a picture of the arc she had won and she was happy to share it with me.
After I had all of the flails from the ending of Evolution, I went into serious stalking mode. I made a few mentions of Y'ALLfest in South Carolina to Hubs and when he didn't laugh in my face, I figured it was a go. Turns out, Michelle was only going to be signing on Friday, we would have been leaving Thursday night. YALLfest was a no.
I looked into her other tour dates and asked her if she was planning a trip to the west coast. She said not that she knew of. I briefly thought about going to the Texas Book Festival, but quickly squashed that. And then I wondered about Chicago...
We have family there, so that means a place to stay. The original plan was that we were going to power through the 30 hour drive, but for $50 more than the estimation of gas, we could fly and have a mini vacation.
Hubs called the bookstore first to see if we could buy an event ticket [I'm ticket #1!!!] and book. He told the lady we were coming from San Diego and were met with stunned silence.
I seem to get that reaction a lot...
So. When I tweeted about the blogiversary giveaway, Michelle saw it and said this:
After airfare was purchased, it was official and the serious fangirling was set on high.
We got into Chicago on the Friday before the event. After we settled in a bit, we decided to go find the bookstore and pick up the books and ticket.
There was a bit of a mix up when I asked to pick up my stuff. No one could locate the binder with event preorders. It took some searching and some wandering around the store, but I noticed some books pulled behind the counter and voila! I had my book and ticket #1.
We spent the next day during the tourist stuff. We all went down to Navy Pier and got on one of those double decker buses where we sat outside in the 36 degree weather and froze our asses off.
On the day of the event, we got to Naperville early. Painfully early. I may or may not have been overly excited. The event was being held at Two Doors East, a little boutique two doors away [not just a clever name] from
We wandered around. Went into Anderson's. Bought Starbucks. Talked to some awesome guy named Tony about Apple TV. Went back into Anderson's. And finally just decided to wait outside the store until they unlocked the door.
They let us in around 6:15. The lady remembered talking to me on the phone and announced to the few girls who were there that I flew from San Diego for this. And then the girls starting asking about the trip. One girl even said she thought her drive of an hour was excessive.
It quickly started filling up and Michelle got there right at 7pm.
She started out with the origin story to UoMD. Michelle was lawyer before she was a writer. She worked in civil anti-terrorism litigation, even working on some of the 9/11 cases when she was 24.
Once while in New York, she met a woman whose daughter was in a building collapse and her friends did not survive. The woman wanted to sue the building's owner for mental anguish. Michelle exchanged information with the mother and said she would try to put her in touch with someone.
Unfortunately, Michelle didn't think about the mother or daughter [who Michelle said you could definitely see there was something more and haunting about] until she was in New York again a year later. She found the number and called, only to find that it had been disconnected. Upon googling the family name, Michelle found that it never existed.
She started writing that night.
Somehow, the topic of the last names were brought up, so I asked if MaraAmitraDyerNoahElliotSimonShaw [MADNESS] was on purpose. Originally, Dyer was Noah's last name as an homage to Reality Bites character Troy Dyer. It wasn't working and Mara quickly adopted it. And then Shaw was quickly picked for Noah and the middle names fell into place. It wasn't "planned" per se, just worked out that way. [And I fucking love it].
And as for the language that is in Michelle's books? She says that she needs to be able to write the story that she needs to write and it's up to the parents to control what their kids read. But while 8 and 10 year olds know the bad words, she's not particularly concerned with language.
The only other notes that I have [be thankful I took this many] is that Retribution is in it's first draft. Which means there's no punctuation. And that readers have all of the puzzle pieces to the entire story, we were given them in Unbecoming.
After about an hour of talking and Q&A [at some point, Michelle did point right at me and ask if I was me *squee*], she started signing. It did go in numerical order, so after I unpacked my pile of books, I apologized to the line of people behind me as well as Michelle for having so many.
Michelle said I didn't need to apologize. I told her the story about the book boy fight and asked if she would please please please sign Noah over to me. Michelle said that since I came from San Diego [insert gasps from the crowd], I deserved him. She also said that she loved my blog [how I remained standing and coherent, I'll never know] and that we were friends.
I had a hardcover copy that I ordered signed [when I missed SF] and asked her to personalize it. Which she did. And then resigned.
How I felt all night
I got some of the awesome swag: buttons and stickers and tattoos and bookplates and bookmarks. I'm far too lazy to go drag it out of my packed books to take photos of it. Just know that it's awesome. And it's all mine.
Michelle is perfection. Online she is friendly and funny and just so mother fucking awesome. In person? She is better. It was beyond exciting to finally meet someone who I adore online, devour their books and then find out that in real life, they're just...gah.
She absolutely made the trip to Chicago worth everything. I can't recommend her enough. Go go go go see her. Now. But don't ask for Noah because I'm not giving him up. EVER.
Want a signed copy of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer? Click here.