Recently I got the amazing opportunity to meet author Lisa Scottoline at an event promoting her new book Betrayed. I had just finished reading one of the books in the series she co-writes with her daughter, Francesca, when my mom called me on the phone.
“Do you want to go meet Lisa Scottoline with us? She’s coming to Barnes And Noble over your Thanksgiving break.”
“Absolutely!” I replied, hungry for more.
Eager beavers, my mom and dad (also big fans) and I arrived two hours before the talk and the book signing that followed was scheduled to begin. The bookstore was giving out numbered wristbands to everyone who showed up for the signing, and the earlier you got your number, the sooner you would be called to meet the author and get your books signed. We walked quickly into the bookstore and were pleased to see that we had beaten the crowds. According to our yellow paper wristbands, we would be close to the front of the group.
But we still had two hours until the event even started. We went out to dinner to try and kill some time but just ended up high tailing it back to the bookstore forty-five minutes later. Digestion, smigestion- we were way too excited. After scoping out seats and finding some good ones in the eighth row, we settled in.
Waiting gave me time to think about how lucky I was to have this opportunity. As you may remember, I recently went to the Robin Black talk here at Arcadia, which was a great experience for me, but I had not been familiar with Black’s work prior to attending that talk. Scottoline, on the other hand, is quite a well-loved favorite.
Her writing style is so refreshingly accessible and that’s what I love about her. I connect with everything she writes about, from tricky family situations to hysterical jokes, because she makes it all so personal. Her stories feel like they are coming from my best friend’s mouth. And like the prospect of meeting up with a best friend, the notion of actually meeting her in person made me giddy with excitement.
Now, if you haven’t yet encountered Scottoline, you should know that she is a former lawyer and a current mother. She also has experience writing for a newspaper. Suffice it to say, she isn’t exactly the reserved type. And I love her for it.
Instead of conducting her talk at the front of the audience, she chose to walk up and down the isles, waving hello to familiar faces and squeezing the hands of newcomers. She took questions, repeating the phrase “ask me anything” and divulging personal, intimate answers into the microphone clipped to the lapel of her glittery gold jacket. In that moment, we weren’t a group of customers listening to a cherished author speak, we were just a group of people getting to know a new friend. The intimacy in that room was undeniable.
When the talk wound down after about an hour, we were called into line for the signing. And, if I thought hearing her talk was intimate, meeting her was like a family reunion. She greeted us with warm smiles and even pulled us in for a picture. It was incredible!
As the flash went off on my mom’s iPhone, I was suddenly filled with a sense of calm. In all the excitement, I had been so focused on trying not to make a fool out of myself that I hadn’t thought about things from a writer’s perspective. Meeting an author I really enjoy made the experience much more personal for me as a writer. For the first time that night I realized that in the future, I could be standing where Scottoline was, meeting readers and signing books. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not envisioning my name up in lights or anything like that just yet, but it really made me think about my future as a writer. One day I might actually see my writing in print.
In that moment, I was holding court with success. Lisa Scottoline represented everything I aspire to be in my professional life: someone with the opportunity to write about what maters to her and share it with an audience that appreciates what she has to say. Standing next to someone I felt such a connection with, who was actually doing it in the real world, reassured me. One day, this could be me.
When the flash was over, my parents and I said our final goodbyes and floated out of the bookstore. In the parking lot on the way to the car we admired our signed pages, my parents eager to go home and sink their teeth into our new reads. But I decided to save starting my copy of Scottoline’s book until tomorrow. I wanted to savor the night for just a little bit longer.