About 2 weeks ago I had the pleasure (sort of) of getting out of work to attend the National Book Festival. I would love to tell you that it was fantastic and fun and wonderful but it really was a lackluster day.
First off it was HOT. Not just "80 degrees with no shade" hot either - real sticky gross "I'm sweating before I leave the dorm" heat that DC is known for in the summer. It was disgusting. Texas might have the heat but it does NOT have the humidity. Thank Goodness too because humidity is of the devil himself. Anyways, I was willing to sacrifice all my nice hair and dry skin for a chance to meet Suzanne Collins, the authoress of THE HUNGER GAMES and GREGOR THE OVERLANDER (which I haven't read though I hear that it's a good series). Yes I am shamelessly advertising the books - you should all go out and buy the box set right this second. Trust me you will thank me later. :D What I am not advertising is waiting around in the incredibly hot scorching sweat-making sun for almost 3 hours to meet Suzanne Collins. Especially when the afore mentioned writer chooses not to sign your books but rather to STAMP them. Yes, that's what I said. STAMP. As in S-T-A-M-P or as in that thing use when laziness has gotten the better of you or your deathly ill. Needless to say I was not happy about this. In fact I was mildly infuriated. I mean, we made her famous, we made her popular, we bought all of her books in hardcover, and we paid for her flight to DC with our purchases. (We being just a general collection of people represented by the over two thousand fans in line that day). In my very frank opinion SHE OWED US more than a "hand crafted, one of a kind" stamp. I don't care about that. I don't care that its still technically a collectable because after this tour she won't ever use that stamp again. That doesn't make it any less exciting. Her excuse - carpal tunnel in her wrist from all the signings she has done since becoming famous all of two years ago. So freaking what? **Note to readers - If I ever become a published author I will sign books until my hands literally fall off**
Here's the stamp
Now look, I'm not saying it's not a very beautiful stamp. IT IS. And yes it's unique and a fun addition to my books, but its not A REAL GENUINE SIGNATURE. I read the blog of one book seller who wrote, of the stamp, these words:
"Last night Suzanne Collins, who is suffering from a hand strain, used a specially designed stamp to autograph for her fans. No one objected that it wasn’t a “real” signature. The stamp is quite stunning and includes her name in her perfect penmanship and a mockingjay bird. Once her limited tour is over, the stamps will be retired (she had 3 so that she always had enough ink), making the stamped books collectible.
One of the nice things about stamping instead of autographing is that it eliminated the sometimes-awkward moments of personalizing and, even better, made the lines go quickly. Best of all, the moments each guest had at the autograph table with Suzanne, were now spent in individual interaction. Suzanne actually had time to chat with the boy who read Mockingjay in Braille.
I still like hand-signed books. I can’t imagine every author commissioning stamps. But in this case, it worked beautifully. Bravo."I see her point I suppose, and let me tell you another thing, IF Mrs. High and Mighty Suzanne Collins HAD actually taken the time she would have spent personalizing my books and used it to make the signing more personal and interactive than I would not be even one tenth as upset about it as I am. But Mrs. Collins DID NOT do that. In fact I felt like one sheep in the herd being steered out of her line of sight faster than I could slur together "nicetomeetyoumrs.collinsI'msuchahugefan." I understand that there were a lot of people who wanted to meet her every bit as desperately as I did, and I get that the people running the National Book Festival wanted to get as many people through the line in the allotted hour as they could so that they would get more people to come back next year. I really do. But honestly, if they wanted more people to see her they should have given her a longer block for signing. And I'm sorry, but I got there early and missed most of her actual speech because I wanted to guarantee I'd get to meet her. I WAITED A LONG LONG TIME IN THAT HEAT for her. The people behind me obviously didn't try as hard as I did and so I deserved to meet her first. Just as the people before me earned the right to be there. They woke up earlier than me. That's just life. I would have been upset but understanding if I hadn't gotten my book signed/stamped because I was too far back in line and she actually said a few lines to each person as she stamped his/her books. I would have survived. But instead I got the the front of the line (I was around the 350th person in line - I know this cause they were 50 person lines and I was in line 7 about 3 from the end or so), gave a random worker my books already open to the pages I wanted stamped, then I moved up to the front and watched as Suzanne stamped them quickly and without any comment, and then another worked handed them to me and practically pushed me away with a fake smile plastered on her face. I got no eye contact, no words, not one FREAKING personal moment in the entire thing. So the above mentioned book seller's blog is CRAP. Because in reality stamping is faster and easier for an author but it is NOT memorable or fun or exciting for me - the spurned fan. And Suzanne Collins did NOT do it beautifully. End. Of. Story.
Now you may ask me, "Caitlin, how does all of this make you feel about Suzanne Collin's work? Will you continue to endorse the books now?" The answer to that is still a wholehearted YES. I definitely loved the Hunger Games Trilogy. They kept my heart racing and thoroughly pissed me off at every turn. That, for me, is a HUGE turn-on in a book. If it can make me angry because I am so attached to the characters I can't stand for things to go wrong than it's a good story. These books had me so upset/caught up in them that I had to shut the book and take deep breaths every twenty minutes or so and remind myself "It's just a book. It's not real. None of that just happened. No Caitlin, you don't actually know Katniss or Peeta or Finnick or Prim or Gale. No you cannot strangle any of them or force them to understand things that you do from being the third person unbiased viewer." That's how awesome these books are. And I actually agree with the New York Times in saying that each book in the trilogy only gets stronger. The first one and the last one are tied in my heart and the second one is only behind because I hate nail-biting cliff hanger endings. You should all read these books. Whatever Suzanne Collins may or may not be (because yes, I do admit to being a little biased in my critcisms of her character - she may have been having a bad day due to the immense heat and the pressures of fame and fortune and I may have misjudged her based solely on my experience since apparently she does take time to speak to blind kids) she is a phenomenal writer and her talent shines in these books. Besides, the characters practically come to life by themselves and all she did was write there stories down effectively for us. That's just my opinion but so what?
So here's the verdict: READ THE HUNGER GAMES and tell me what you thought. Besides if you order this boxed set you get FREE SHIPPING...
Love you guys,