A few months back, I received an email from a library where I’d done a talk last fall. They had received a grant and were using it to bring James Patterson (THE James Patterson) to the area. He had requested a local moderator to join him on stage to discuss his memoir. The librarian asked if I’d be interested.
I replied yes (HELL YES) without a second thought.
It was far from a done deal. I had to submit a letter telling about myself and why I wanted to do this and why I thought I was the right person for the job. They also wanted a list of ten sample questions. I have no idea how many others were applying for the moderator role, but apparently I was not alone.
I compiled all the requested material and sent it off. And waited. After a few weeks, I got the word—I had been selected!
His speaker’s bureau sent me an early copy of the book and requested another list of questions—the real ones this time—to be approved.
Leading up to the event, there wasn’t much for me to do. I didn’t have to promote because tickets sold out almost immediately. Five hundred seats, all filled.
Nothing to be nervous about. Ha!
In the final weeks leading up to June 16, I changed my mind about my wardrobe five or six times. I settled on my comfy flat shoes over heels, figuring I’d be nervous enough without worrying about falling on my face. Since it was 90 degrees and sauna-level humidity that day, I opted for a flowy blouse and lightweight cardigan rather than my lined, heavyweight suit jacket.
The evening of the event, the weather forecasters called for heavy storms, winds, hail, possible tornados, all striking during the time I’d be making the hour or so trip to Harmony PA and the Steamfitters Event Center. The good news was the storms missed us. The bad news was rush hour traffic was even worse than usual. I hate arriving late, and it looked like I would be cutting it close.
Then Google Maps deposited me in the middle of a farmer’s field.
I strongly considered resting my head on my steering wheel and crying.
But after a long discussion with Google, she redirected me back the way I’d just come and took me right to the front door of the event center. Now seriously, Google, why couldn’t you have done that the first time?
At least I wasn’t late. Punctual, but not late.
Everyone from the library was wonderful and grateful to have me there. James arrived a few minutes after I did, along with his entourage.
I don’t have an entourage.
We were all directed into the green room to get mic’d. James and I had a lovely chat about what he expected. He assured me we’d have fun.
|In the "green room" prior to the event
A few minutes before seven, event center staff bustled us through the backstage area where we waited behind a closed door while one of the librarians introduced us. “Go,” someone ordered and nudged me through that door and onto the stage to the applause of 500 smiling fans.
James Patterson’s fans. I knew that was the case going in and was fine with it. Besides, where else can you get that kind of exposure to mystery/suspense readers?
I had forty-five minutes to ask my questions, which consisted of me lobbing the opening of one of his many personal stories at him and then sitting back and letting him do his thing. I had to pay close attention though. He frequently answered questions I hadn’t asked yet while shifting from one story of his life to another. But it was great. I finished my list exactly on time. Then the audience had fifteen minutes to ask their questions. At 8:01, I spotted James’s assistant signaling from the sidelines. Wrap it up. Which I did.
His signing table
was already set up and “his people” had the signing process down to a science.
One took the book from the adoring fan, opened it to the right page, and set it
before James. Another accepted phones and snapped photos of the fans and James.
I heard someone say he signed 300 books in an hour.
James's assistant taking photos The signing line wrapped around the room
It was amazing.
And I’m beyond grateful to have been part of it.
have you ever been part of an event with a “megastar?” Fellow readers, who’s
the biggest-name author you’ve ever met or want to meet?