As most of you know, I have been a fan of Icy and MotU/MotUII for a very long time (thanks to pleading back in the day by Dangrdafne and Twilight Cupcake and an epic fanmade video by Biel). Since then, there have been story reviews, emails, tweets, blog tributes (including this one Fifty Shades of Thanks), and graphic designs. I even fell in love with a kiwi along the way (*waves at TwiKiwi50*). It was getting so bad that some of you thought I should be her PR person or be getting a commission. "Ka-ching!" became synonymous with me mentioning her and/or the stories. So to say that finally getting to meet her in person was a big deal for me is an understatement.
When her U.S. book tour was announced and Chicago was one of the stops, I immediately bought a ticket. The reception was hosted by The Book Stall at Chestnut Court and held at The Standard Club. The $75 ticket price included drinks, hors d'oeuvres, a copy of all three books in the trilogy, a personalized autograph in the book of your choice, and generic autographs in the other two.
|The one and only alcoholic drink we had that night. Honest.|
Kassie and I ended up sitting with two other women who were there separately, and we enjoyed hearing their take on everything. It's still hard for us to wrap our heads around the fact that not everyone read the stories first as fanfiction and that for them, casting of the movie is a wide open canvas.
|Our tablemates (Jill, to my left, was especially fun to get to know.)|
Then came the guest of honor, author E L James. When she was introduced and took the stage, it was to cheers, applause, and a standing ovation. We left our table to get closer to the stage and stood along the side. It was hard to get good pictures though because of the dim lighting (that and a photographer I am not). The first words out of her mouth were "H-o-l-y shit!" and it was the perfect icebreaker. I had talked to her by email before the event, and she said it's just crazy that all of this is happening. She has been doing a lot of interviews during the book tour, and it really is true. She's down to earth, humble, and stunned that all of this is happening to her.
She spoke for a few minutes and then fielded questions before signing books. Of course there was a question about casting, but she insisted that they are a long way from that yet. Another fan asked if she was going to write another book, to which she replied that she'd actually already written two but that she'd need to go back and look at them again before they were ready to send to a publisher. Then there was the frequently asked question of whether or not she would continue the series, to which she (half?) joked "...I'm kind of sick of these kids." Someone pleaded for at least a book told from
By dumb luck, we were actually standing where the line to get autographs was supposed to start. I had to hold Kassie back from giving the people from the other side of the room who were line jumping a piece of her mind ;) It was all good, though. We were still in the middle of the line, and I had faith that Icy would stay until all of the books were signed, and she did.
Staff came around and gave us a yellow post-it note to write our name on and showed us which page to put it on inside the book (title page). This is apparently common practice at autograph signings. It makes sense because it meant the line wasn't slowed down by asking for your name and how to spell it. Icy was seated at a table and to her left was a man who kept things moving by getting the books from the next person in line, opening them up, and sliding them in front of her to sign. I found out later that he is the VP/Director of Publicity at her publishing company, Anchor/Vintage Books at Random House.
Kassie went first, and I managed to get a picture, despite the fact that I was so nervous/excited.
|(L to R) Agent Valerie Hoskins, Kassie, Icy, Publicist Russell Perreault|
Having met Rob in a similar situation, I knew that the moment would be over in a heartbeat. Finally, it was my turn. Her publicist took my books and then slid the first one in front of her. I had written (17 forever) Lisa on my post-it note. I'll be honest. I was hoping for a small sign of recognition. What I got was surreal. She read it, gasped, looked up, and then got up from the table to wrap me up in a hug and tell me, "It's so lovely to finally meet you." It was definitely a moment I won't forget. She then proceeded to introduce me to her agent, Valerie Hoskins, telling her that I was the Lisa she'd been talking about.
|Thanks to Jill for this picture.|
|Our personalized "Laters Baby" autographs|
They had announced earlier that there wouldn't be individual pictures so that the author had time to sign everyone's books, so as I was standing by her agent waiting for my books to be signed, I said I had really hoped for a picture and Icy overheard me. She then asked if I could please stay until the end of the reception so that we could chat some more and do pictures. I checked my watch. Lie. I said of course with what was probably a goofy-ass grin on my face and headed back to our table with Kassie and the other two girls. I think all four of us were doing our own version of "H-o-l-y- shit!" at this point.
We visited awhile longer and the room started to thin out. Eventually, there was some applause and we looked over to see Icy standing up and waving to the people who were left and then she exited out a side door. I figured that was it. But then her publicist made his way through the empty tables and chairs to where we were sitting. He pointed at me and said that she wanted me to come up to her hotel room. Um. Yeah. Holy shit didn't even cut it at this point. I had the presence of mind to remember that Kassie was with me and explained that to him. He was very gracious and said it was no problem for her to come along too. I wish I had a picture of the two of us walking hurriedly behind him at this point. LOL!
On the way to the elevator, I ran into Michelle (Micki Martini), one of my roomies from the weekend in Chicago when we saw 100 Monkeys and again on my last trip to Forks. I'm sure onlookers watching our reunion thought we should have gotten a room that night as well ;) For those of you who know Michelle, you know she is one of the biggest sweethearts ever and an absolute riot to spend time with. I wish I had known she was going to be there ahead of time so I could have talked to her longer.
Kassie and I rode the elevator with security and a few other guests of Icy's, and she greeted us at the door. I wish I could tell you everything that we talked about, but then I'd have to kill you. Kidding. The thing is, I was unprepared. I told her that there were a million questions I should be asking and a million things I should be saying but the moment was just too big. She shook her head at that, of course. She thanked me for all of my support, past and present. She said it really is people like us who make this all worthwhile. She appreciates our thanks, but she said it is we who deserve the thanks because she knows she wouldn't be where she is today without us. And that especially includes old fans...Twilight fanfiction fans...despite what you may hear elsewhere. Icy still has her original twitter account. She doesn't hide the fact that these books started out as Twilight fanfiction. She didn't have to do what she did for me that night, as I am a direct link to her "past." But that's the thing. It's a past she's not ashamed of, nor should she be.
We took some pictures together and then I asked if she'd pose for a picture with Kassie, which she was more than happy to do. We headed for the door so she could let us out, but not before she made me promise to tweet her that I'd made it home safely. I did, and I did :)
|Wearing my ever-present "Aini In Our Hearts Forever" bracelet, Steph!|
I can't wait to see how everything unfolds as the book heads to the big screen. If scheduling and location permits, I will be there to support her at her first world premiere. And regardless of who is cast (or maybe I should say who isn't cast), I will be the first in line to buy a ticket (or two, or three, or fifty) to see the movie.