Reader Request Week 2008 #10: Meeting Authors (and Me)

James asks:

I have bought tickets to Denvention and I am looking forward to seeing all of my favorite authors. My question is what is the appropriate way to approach an author? Ignore (or not) behavior like stalking and such (knocking on hotel door at 2am) but how would you like to be approached? I’m fluctuating between, Ohmygod,ohmygod,ohmygod, it’s scalzi!!!!!! and a deep scary “it’s good to meet you, John.”

Part of the problem is that I feel like I know you fairly well, because of how open and sharing you are here on the blog, but you know nothing about me. How do/should you (and us as your fans) manage this inequality?

Yeah, it’s interesting. One aspect of fame — even the rather meager portion of it that I and most authors have — is that more people know you than you know, and they have a relationship with you that you don’t have with them. I can’t individually know everyone who reads one of my books or reads Whatever; I’d have no time left at the end of the day. And once again it makes me feel sorry for people who are genuinely famous, who have this sort of unequal relationship with millions of people, not just a few sundry thousands.

I do think it’s worth remembering that even though you’ve read our books (and our blogs) and feel friendly toward us, on our end of things you’re a stranger, even if we’ve interacted with you through blog comments or e-mail or whatever. There are lots of regular commentors here on Whatever who, if they were to come up to me in real life and just start blabbering away, I would have not the first clue who they were, and I might even be a little alarmed (fortunately my regular commentors here are more socialized than that. Right? Right?!?). I’m glad you recognize this fact that our respective relationships are unequal in terms of familiarity, James, and I hope the rest of you internalize it too.

That said, you know: I’m just this guy. There’s no great science to meeting me or any author for the first time. Presuming that you are adult and socialized reasonably well, the way to introduce yourself to me is the same way you would introduce yourself to anyone you’ve not actually met before in real life. You come up, make sure I’m not currently engaged in a task that needs my full attention, say “excuse me” or “hello” to get my attention, and then introduce yourself. Wherein you and I will likely have a nice, brief chat, and after a minute or two we’ll disengage and go about our lives. Pretty simple.

I do know that occasionally people are reluctant to approach me or other writers, because “oh, they get bothered so much, I don’t want to bother them.” Leaving aside the fact that authors are rarely bothered in this way because few people actually know what we look like, I think a lot depends on context. If you were to find me randomly out on the street or at a restaurant, this is not an inappropriate response; I probably do want to be left alone, because I’m busy having my real life. But if I’m at a convention (or book fair, or other public event), I’m generally there to be accessible to fans and readers, as are most authors who are there. I think we all generally like to be recognized in that context. Please feel free to come up and say hello; it’s not a bother.

Bear in mind that it’s not just fans and readers who get this way about writers; it’s other writers, too (because we’re fans and readers as well). I was at ReaderCon a couple of years ago, standing with a group of young writers, when China Mieville, who was the convention guest of honor (and who is a generally lovely person), paused nearby to look at some notes. And this is what happened:

Young Writer: Oh my god, oh my god. It’s China. God, I so want to talk to him. (nods all around)

Me: So call him over.

Young Writer: I can’t! I’m too embarrassed. I wouldn’t know what to say. That’s China, man. And look, he’s busy. Staring at words. I don’t want to bug him. (more nods)

Me: You’re all idiots. Hey, China!

China Mieville: (looks up) Oh, hello. (joins group to chat briefly, then goes about his business)

Me: See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Young Writers: Oh my god! We talked to China! (neo-pro hands flutter, legs pump up and down with glee)

Okay, maybe they didn’t giggle like Japanese schoolgirls at the end. But the rest of it is fairly bang on. Point is, all of us get a bit fannish and intimidated from time to time. But most authors, especially at conventions and seminars, are happy to say hello for a moment or two.

This does lead to another question: Is there a time at a convention when you shouldn’t say hello to an author? Well, sure. Authors are often rushing from one panel or event to another (con organizers work us like dogs to keep you amused), so if you see an author with a holy crap I’m late and I have no idea where my next panel is look on his or her face, try to catch them some other time. Likewise, if you see an author trying to cram a sandwich down his throat like he’s forgotten about the concept of chewing, it probably means he’s only got a few minutes to fuel himself before he’s off to something else. Give him a break, let him scarf, catch him later.

One other thing: Note the difference between public and private spaces, and public and private conversations. If you see an author at a con party holding court with a crowd of folks around, feel free to join in. If you see her talking very intently to one other person, over in the corner, you’re probably not wanted. Likewise: author in the hotel bar, being loud and opinionated? Say hi. Author in the restaurant, having a quiet meal with spouse or friends? Catch them later. This is all common sense and common courtesy, and I’m sure you know all of this already. But feel free to pass this along to your more clueless friends.

So that’s some general advice. Relating to me, here are some things you should know when coming to say hi.

1. I discover that as more people come up and say hi to me, and as my brain becomes more error-ridden as I ingest increasingly massive amounts of artificial sweetener, I am having a harder time remembering names and faces. So: Even if we’ve met before, I might not immediately recognize you by name or face. Just reintroduce yourself, at which point I will like say “Oh, right. Duh. Sorry,” and we can move along. I’m generally very upfront about this inability to remember anything anymore, and hopefully I am so in a charming way, but what I’m saying is: don’t be offended. It’s not that you’re not memorable, it’s that my brain sucks.

2. I am generally very open to being approached (even outside conventions, in my real life), but occasionally you might come up to me when I’m in a conversation I’m really engaged in, or when I’m busy doing something, or even when, despite being in a public area, I just want to be left alone. When that happens I’ll say something like, “Can I catch up with you later?”, which will be your cue to step away. It does not mean “fuck off” (trust me, if I want you to fuck off, I will use words to that effect); it means “please catch up with me later.” The upside to honoring this request is that when I see you again, I am likely to be happier to see you, because I know you’re the sort of excellent person who leaves me alone when I ask to be left alone.

3. I am generally happy to sign books and take pictures. However, I don’t want to read your short story, listen to an idea you’ve had we could collaborate on, go have lunch or dinner with you if we’ve only just met or go up to your hotel room for whatever reason you might contrive (and yes, people have tried to contrive, at least once, although not for the reason you’re probably thinking). Thanks all the same.

4. Also, not that it’s ever come up, or likely ever will, but just in case, here’s the deal for groupies: You’ll have to ask Krissy for permission.

Good luck with that.

I think this covers most everything about meeting me.

107 Comments on “Reader Request Week 2008 #10: Meeting Authors (and Me)”

  1. Like that young writer, I think I would get all nervous and fluttery at the prospect of meeting China Mieville, up to and including the anime leg-pumping.
    It would likely be a pathetic and horrible sight to behold, and all who witnessed it would turn to one another and say as much in hushed tones.

  2. John,

    Heh heh. I’ve been near you (like in the same city block at conventions) a couple times but I haven’t managed to hook up. No you big devil, I don’t mean that, you’re not my type. The few times I have almost met you I was surprised to be overcome by strong shyness. It was an odd dissonance – a certain familiarity and complete distance at the same time. I can’t say I really liked the feeling but I suppose with the internet and what it brings this kind of thing is pretty common nowadays.

    I really can’t imagine falling for someone over the internet and then meeting in person. The whole thing would probably blow me away.

    I guess I am saying that if we ever do meet in person and if I have sweaty palms I hope you will remember me as that articulate charming person on the internet and not as that shy speechless dork doing his Jackie Gleason “homina homina homina” impersonation.

  3. EvilDan:

    China is an awesome dude. He’s my designated mancrush. Shhhh. Don’t tell.


    Heh. No worries.

  4. Yeah, what EvilDan said. And I lived in Japan so I know what a crowd of giggling schoolgirls looks and sounds like. It’s pretty much what I’d do if China came around.

    We share the same birthday, China and I, but other than that, he’s just gives off the coolest vibe.

  5. Many years ago I was at a “celebrity” tennis event for some charity that was hosted by Michael Landon (that give you a clue as to the b- listness of said celebrities…). Anyway, everyone there was wonderful with stopping for pictures with the kids, signing autographs, etc…Except for one who apparently thought she was too important as I watched her shove a kid out of the way after she was leaving the court when she was done playing. I saw her once after that refusing to sign an autograph for a kid, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a onetime thing.
    I guess when you’re in a show with Richard Mulligan (and it wasn’t even the great Soap!), and you have a brother named Jimmy, you’re too good to sign autographs for kids…lol.

  6. Also, if you try the, “Hey, China!” route and the person does not turn their head or wave or in any way acknowledge you, please consider that he may not have heard you, rather than that he thinks he’s all that and is being a total jerk and you’ll never think well of *him* again.

    I have had to explain to far too many people that if someone doesn’t stop to talk to you when you’d like them to do so at a convention, it doesn’t mean they’re an arrogant ass. It may mean that they’re hard of hearing, or that they’re a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of people, or…well. Any number of things.

    Also, big-name industry pros are allowed to be shy. If they don’t have much to say to you when you do try striking up a conversation, “stuck-up” should not be your first assumption.

  7. Just bring fresh Double-Doubles to a Scalzi event, and you’re in like Flynn.

    (Note: if you figure out how to transport Double-Doubles to Denver and have them arrive fresh and tasty, please let me know. I have a hard time moving them a few blocks without ending up with a sloppy pile of cheesey goodness.)

  8. I remember Zsa Zsa Gabor telling about a very rude fan in a clothing store who said in a stern voice “Zsa Zsa get over here!”

    She turned around and the woman was talking to her poodle.

    So don’t name your dog “Scalzi.” I’m just saying.

  9. V’s Herbie:

    Cool! See you there!


    “Oh, look, Scalzi’s trying to hump my leg again. I think I’ll take him to have his testicles removed.”

    Yes, please don’t name your dog after me.

  10. I think James’s concerns are spot on. I had the pleasure to meet the Great Scalzi, and found it somewhat disappointing. Only later did I realize that he was tired from sitting in the sun after a long weekend, and that “we” really do not have a relationship. “I” have a relationship with this site, but not with the John himself.

    Had I groked this prior to meeting John, I think I would have left happier.

    I should note that in no way do I blame John for any of this. After all it was my emotional response, nothing to do with him. My expectations differed from reality. Lesson learned.

    The funny thing is I have been around enough actors professionally to know better. Alas we are not always our better selves.

  11. See, Tolladay, now I’m going to go crazy trying to remember when it was you met me. Which brings the point home about my memory these days.

  12. See, this is why I am glad I got to meet you before you became Supa-Famous(tm). (Well, you were semi-famous, having just won the Campbell. Oh, and thanks again. It was the highlight of the next two weeks.)

    I kinda had the reaction you describe at Boskone. I wanted to meet and talk to people, but I was sure they were all busy and meeting other people much higher on the priority list and I have social anxiety about interrupting that sort of thing. At my first Comic-con I just wibbled because I couldn’t believe I was talking to Brom/Terry Moore/David Mack/Bob the Angry Flower/etc.

  13. “Even if we’ve met before, I might not immediately recognize you by name or face.”

    That just amused me, considering the one time I met you, you didn’t remember my name when I went twice through the book-signing line.

    Which was entirely reasonable, I might add, considering the number of people there, but it was still funny.

  14. Anna N:

    If it was at the Minneapolis signing last year, it may have had something to do with two hours of sleep and being sick. I recall that signing as being the one where I forgot someone’s name between signing one book of his and the next, and his name being “Bob.”

  15. You know, most celebrities I have met have been incredibly kind and generous with their time and their autographs(!).

    The writers I met at Readercon last year (E. Bear, Paolo Bacigalupi, Peter Watts, Mary Robinette “Spacewalk” Kowal) were all incredibly nice and easy to chill with (once I stopped hyperventilating and acting like my puppy when someone comes to the door).

    Favorite person to meet was Tony Bennett, who apparently is always armed with a Sharpie.

    Least was Stephen J. Gould who was surprisingly rude for a guy who at the time was on TV all the live long day and well known. I saw him on the T in Boston and just said “Are you – ” and he growled at me. Later on, it occurred to me that where he got off (Mass General Hospital stop) and the time (a year or so before his death from cancer) may have been a factor.

    As Scalzicce said, don’t take it personal.

    Also he like maple stuff a lot!

  16. Nope, it was Novi (?) in Michigan (speaking of which, you never posted the picture you took there :). Though I think the “Bob” story is even better, heh.

  17. On the other hand, I must say that watching the Great Scalzi hold court on a con is really very entertaining, though you should really try to guess how many Coke Zeroes he’s had prior to getting your expectations up. (grin) Then again, when the wild packs of authors get together, it can be scary — they all seem to be wearing leather jackets these days and I suspect that those in the Inner Circle of Authordom have probably gone through the sekrit rites and have the same tattoo…

    As for being memorable enough here on the Whatever to be recognizable to The Scalzi out in the wild, consider that we don’t have LJ-style icons or pics here, so we’re just text characters. And I don’t look like Dr. Phil. Though I have to admit, if you were to go to LiveJournal, all my LJ icons are of Kate Winslet, which won’t give you a clue as to what Dr. Phil looks like either. (double-grin)

    Dr. Phil

  18. The best advice I’ve gotten on how to greet an author (from Terry Pratchett): Offer to buy him a drink.

  19. I’ve met Scalzi before (in person) and it wasn’t that big a deal at all. He was just your normal average guy. He also had way more hair than his pictures on this blog suggest. Of course that might have been due to the fact that this was 20 years ago in college…

  20. Words cannot express how much I love that photo of Krissy. Especially the T-shirt she’s wearing. It’s perfect in its brilliance.

  21. What about the people who try to cram as much cleverness and wit into their 20 seconds of interaction as they possibly can? It’s like they try to turn the conversation into a résumé about how cool and intelligent and well-read they are. Oh! And humorous! Don’t forget humorous!

    One time while waiting to get a book signed by Neil Gaiman, the guy in line behind me was actually rehearsing what he was going to say. For over 30 minutes. With a written script. Man, talk about flowery and overwrought and just-plain-awkward. But you can totally picture the elaborate little fantasy in which, if they can strike upon *just the right combination of words*, then the celebrity will be SO impressed and invite them out to dinner and-then-they’d-be-best-of-friends-forever-the-end.

  22. I feel slightly better knowing (or at least taking your word for it) that China Mieville is such a nice guy in person… I’ve always wondered what kind of person writes things that creep me out so completely. In a good way that makes me want to read more about them, but still. Creepy.

  23. Some context, possibly worth noting:

    Denvention does not sell “tickets”, it sells memberships, in the convention. This distinction is based on the idea that all the members of conventions contribute to making the events happen. Many of the most interesting speakers at a given convention are not paid professionals in the field, or are not speaking in their capacity as pros. Many paid professionals are not especially good at public speaking. In general, there is not an endorsed class divide between famous, professional “entertainers” and amateur, unfamous “audience”. Instead, we’re all equally members of a society (in this case WSFS) that convenes together.

    Science fiction has a long tradition of its authors coming out of the culture and company of its fandom. Arthur C. Clarke: member of fandom. Robert Heinlein: member of fandom. Harlan Ellison: member of fandom (though he sometimes denies it now, despite still contributing to fanzines now and again.). Greg Benford: member of fandom. Terry Pratchett: member of fandom. One can go on. The point is, the internal culture of SF conventions, which are, like many SFF authors, a product of fandom, endorses the idea that we’re all just guys doing stuff, and we’re getting together because we are all interested in the same stuff, broadly speaking. It’s worth remembering that this is the reason conventions exist. Because we all want to discuss and praise and expand this crazy Buck Rogers SF stuff.

    Not that this is necessarily obvious from the outside. Movies and television have helped to make SF sufficiently mainstream that there are now plenty of authors who come to the genre without having the benefit of that fannish culture before they became published, and they may come to conventions with somewhat distorted expectations. If they’re the first sort of author one meets, one can come away with the idea that authors constitute a special Brahmin class at conventions. They don’t. And commercially run media-oriented conventions have created a widespread alternative culture wherein there is a sharp divide between paid entertainers (who often have no personal interest in SF at all) and the grubby hoi polloi of fans. Some of those media fans come to fannish SF conventions and expect the same cultural divide to obtain. It doesn’t.

    But because SF is no longer small enough or close knit enough that everyone who’s into it shares the same expectations or can fit in one convention center once a year, it can be pretty unclear for someone first going to a Worldcon what to expect of the experience. But here’s the deal: we’re all just guys doin’ stuff. Treat all the people who you have not met previously with the same level of common courtesy and common sense, and you’ll get along just fine, whether they’re famous or not.

  24. Enquiring minds want to know what the John did to the Krissy to make her threaten him with a baseball bat…(g)

    I don’t know that I’d go all “squee!” over John (Scalzi), though I suspect I’d go all “stalker fan hiding in hallways seeking autographed copies” were I to meet you at a con.

    Fred Pohl, now, oh hail yeah (even though I suspect he doesn’t much make it to cons anymore)…or Jack Williamson or Theodore Sturgeon or Leight Brackett (if I’d ever have met them while they were still with us)…Elizabeth Moon I’d definitely go all schoolgirlish and blushy and tongue-tied over (which is really a creepy visual considering I’m not gender-ly equipped, really, for the whole schoolgirl thing).

  25. Well, I know you shouldn’t do what I did, which is stand there like an idiot gushing to William Gibson about how awesome he is only to belatedly realize you’ve utterly ignored Bruce Sterling sitting next to him when you brought a copy of “Islands in the Net” to be signed.

    I did better when this guy came up to me in a bookstore in the mid-eighties and asked me what I thought of “the killer B’s”, Benford, Bear and Brin. Fortunately I spoke pretty pretty highly of David Brin in the ensuing conversation as that’s who the guy turned out to be.

  26. Lee S @ 27: Fred still comes to cons locally. He’s a VERY nice guy. I got kind of tongue-tied when I met Elizabeth Moon, but she was very willing to talk to me any way. Hopefully, I will get to meet the Scalzi at Denvention and can just say Hi without making a fool of myself.

  27. I have a very hard time keeping my brain intact when meeting people that I admire. I usually forget my name and stutter through my introduction until my logical brain takes over and smites me for being a star-struck dumbass.

  28. I never thought it’d be weird to see an author in person, till I saw Scalzi do a reading locally at The Greene…

    It was then I had my first encounter with my inner fanboy. It was a scary time. Scary.

  29. A tangent: When you are at a WorldCon, and you see people swarming around Famous Author at the booksignings, take a moment to look around and see the Not Yet Famous Author who has nobody in line. They are usually good for a brief conversation, and you’ll come away with a list of works to look up. That’s how I found out about Fiona Avery, who now has a modicum of fame (primarily in comics scriptings.)

    Of course, that was the WorldCon I wore shirts to be signed, not realizing that as I’m female this would be a serious source of disturbance to many of the male authors. It was pretty funny by the end of the convention, because every single male author and artist had some comment* or look of “Are you sure?” while every single female author did some equivalent of “Cool!” and just signed the shirt.

    *Including “This is the most erotic thing I’ve ever done.” I’d never considered the plan in quite that light…

  30. At Capclave a couple of years ago, Kim Stanley Robinson was the guest of honor. Didn’t get to meet him UNTIL we were having lunch next to him in the hotel.

    My husband and I waited until after he had finished eating, had paid, and was getting up to leave. That’s when we leaned over to say “hi,” and we asked him about his Southwest Harbor Fire Dept. T-shirt.

    That led to a long and lovely conversation about Mt. Desert Island, Maine, The Jackson Laboratory, and Acadia National Park. It was probably a longer conversation than if I had asked him straight out about The Years of Rice and Salt (although I LOVE LOVE LOVE that book).

  31. Also, if you try the, “Hey, China!” route and the person does not turn their head or wave or in any way acknowledge you, please consider that he may not have heard you, rather than that he thinks he’s all that and is being a total jerk and you’ll never think well of *him* again.

    If I were a professional writer and someone called out to me at a public event, I almost certainly wouldn’t respond because I have a hearing impairment and don’t pick up much except close FTF when there is background noise. This doesn’t mean I’m not a jerk, of course.

  32. delurking to comment that I don’t know why, but I totally become an uber-shy adolescent whenever meeting anyone famous (and by famous, I mean someone I know of that doesn’t know me). I almost didn’t go get Scalzi’s autograph even though I’d come to the bookstore to see him on tour – my husband made me stand in line.

    John was very gracious though, and even said he remembered my handle here when I mentioned who I was. That may or may not be true (I don’t comment very often, but Grumpator is fairly memorable), but it was a nice thing to say regardless.

  33. It sounds like most authors at conventions are good people to talk to.

    Not like that John Scalvi guy I ran into a while back. He thrust a copy of his book at me and told me to write “John Scalvi, you are a wonderful author” on the title page, then sign my name and give the book back to him.

    I eventually had to do it just to make him go away.

  34. Ulrika O’Brien … excellent points. My wife and I recently discussed some of the differences between Celebrity and fame, and she noticed that my (albeit geeky) fandom was much more relaxed because I “knew” that I could most likely meet anyone I truly wanted to meet, if I really wanted to. My favorite celebrities would undoubtedly, at some point, attend a book signing or convention. Her favorite celebrities were hard (or impossible) to meet in real life, and some actively avoid those same situations. She collects autographs, so this is an issue dear to her heart. Her opinion was that this is at least part of the reason for the “OMG! I HAVE TO INTERRUPT HIS/HER DINNER!” mentality, because a fan recognizes that they most likely will never have another chance to meet this person. When we have met “celebs” in real life, the absolute order of the day is “be polite,” and to recognize that although this may be the most important 30 seconds of your life, it is just another minute in theirs (and most likely at the end of a tiring day.)

  35. So bounding up naked bar a generous slather of woad and going for the bear-hug is wrong?

    That explains everything.

  36. Smith @24,

    But you can totally picture the elaborate little fantasy in which, if they can strike upon *just the right combination of words*, then the celebrity will be SO impressed and invite them out to dinner and-then-they’d-be-best-of-friends-forever-the-end.

    What an amateur. The best (or oldest) of us know to take Asimov’s advice – you need to play straight man and let the celeb take the bait and make the clever comment. This works with Scalzi, too.

    See how quickly he pounced on my comment @ 10? Less than a minute. It’s like offering candy to a baby. Celebs can’t help themselves. They are putty in your hands once you know how to push the buttons. It is a good thing I use my powers for good – or so you hope.


  37. I can’t believe we’ve reached comment 41 without anyone asking you about those weird people who try to coax you into their hotel rooms (not for the reason you’re thinking).

    So, what was that about? Reason we’re thinking or not, it sounds like a good story.

  38. Sara, it’s really not interesting enough for in-depth discussion, save for the “hey, want to come up to my room?” element.

  39. Funny you should post this today. Me and the other Team Seattle folks have given it quite a lot of discussion as of late; there’s something of a situation out here (though calling it a “situation” overvalues it immensely).

    Perhaps I’ll make a post springing from yours, later. I don’t know. I doubt it would do any good, and it would probably only make me look like a bitch.

  40. Sara at 43:

    those weird people who try to coax you into their hotel rooms

    I think they were trying to get him to sell Bibles in the South over the summer but thanks to my warning he didn’t go for it.

    To clarify I have nothing against the Bible, selling, the South, or the summer but together they are one bad trip.

  41. Chang scared me for a moment there; the Steven Gould I know of is very much alive right now, and I certainly can’t imagine him growling. Also, I suppose, ‘v’s and not ‘ph’s is a bit of a clue that I shouldn’t panic.

    I have no idea what Double-Doubles are (and this ignorance makes me sad) but I think I’ve offered to buy you a coke, Mr. Scalzi? Or will you be drowning in them by this time?

  42. I have enough trouble meeting NOT famous people that I semi-know through the internet. It feels very strange, and I’m always happy when it’s over… I’ve never added the element of asymetry before.

    In defense of “Young Author” above, even if it’s easy to call somebody over, there’s a very real fear of having nothing to say. “Hi, I’m a fan, thanks for writing,” is about 2.5 seconds of material, unless you’re exceptionally starstruck, and stutter it out to 5 or 6. Even if you’re not searching for the magic words that’ll make a friendship out of a fanship, it’s still easy to be struck dumb. And calling somebody over so you can sort of hem and haw… well, it doesn’t make a good story for your friends, or a good use of the semi-lebrity’s time, does it? Walking up to somebody at a convention to take up 5-20 seconds, express fandom… that sounds much easier.

    I suppose it’s a lot easier if there’s ambient conversation? Or if you’re high on aspartame, maybe that helps… I don’t touch the stuff.

  43. Folks. I have a relationship with Scalzi. It’s so overrated. Now, the time I met Adam Duritz and he was kind and cool and talkative…well, that was nifty.

  44. I have followed your instruction for meeting The Great Writer more than once. It led to short, interesting conversations with Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Marion Zimmer Bradley, David Gerrold, and other authors and actors. None of them were rude or put me down as just a dumb fanboy. In fact, Ms Bradley was on her way to lunch, and invited me to join her.

  45. Scott-

    It often helps if you’ve attended one or more of the panels the author was on.

    A well-constructed panel discussion will spawn off way more conversational threads and “yes, but have you considered X” moments than can be crammed into the time slot, and will leave most participants with more that they want to say. Odds are, you’ll come away with more stuff you want to say, or ask, too. Hang on to that stuff, it’s conversational gold.

    Later, when you’re in a room party, if you’re talking to anybody who was at the same panel, including Bigname Z. Author, you can go back and finally say, “Okay, but does that accellerated star-core trick really produce enough energy to make the sun go nova? Wouldn’t that just temporarily accellerate the burn?” or whatever. And if you’re talking to somebody who wasn’t there, even better, because then you have the opportunity to set up the problem first, before sharing the question you’re mulling over.

    On the other hand, lack of sleep, bad eating habits, and A/C-driven dehydration can make stupid people of us all by the end of a long convention, in which case all the hoarded conversational loot in the world may not help.

  46. Y’know, I wouldn’t assume that you’d recognize me even though you’ve posted a photo of me on your blog in the past.

    That said, since you punked out on Boskone this year, I am simply going to have to show up at Penguicon instead in order to properly stalk you. (And don’t try to fool me by bringing that Scalvi guy along as a decoy.)

  47. Also, don’t linger outside the men’s room till an author walks out, and tell him as he’s emerging how much you admire his work. It lends a weird vibe to the conversation.

    A very forgiving and gracious man, Tim Powers. At least I didn’t follow him INTO the men’s room.

  48. Christopher Davis:

    Ironically, I do recognize you, because I have a picture of you on the site. I’m pretty pathetic.

    Ulrika O’Brien:

    “On the other hand, lack of sleep, bad eating habits, and A/C-driven dehydration can make stupid people of us all by the end of a long convention, in which case all the hoarded conversational loot in the world may not help.”

    Amen to this. Last day of a Worldcon, I am beyond useless to anyone.

  49. Apropos of this, has a video up today of Senator Obama and a camera-equipped remora who is having difficulty understanding why Mr. Obama might not be up for having a picture taken at that moment.

    (The request didn’t seem that ingracious to me, but perhaps, like in many news videos, there is prefatory material that didn’t make it into the story we saw.)

    Regardless, I felt for both people involved. It seemed, to me, to be a clear case of “Sometimes, the famous person gets to say ‘no,’ and you just have to live with it.”

  50. I once impressed a young lady at a Lunacon who was attending to meet Asimov. I demonstrated my amazing contacts by saying “Dr. Asimov, I have a young woman who wants to meet you.” I had never seen a man his age and shape move through a crowd of admirers so fast.

  51. Thank you for this! I may have to link this if I ever get a FAQ up. You are The Man where writer-meeting etiquette is concerned (and probably a lot of other things, too.)

  52. I hope to see you at Millenicon next March since that is the next and possibly first time that my SF con attendance schedule and yours will intersect. Normally, I’m more likely to leave people such as yourself alone than any other weird behavior. But, I’ll try to find an opportune time to say, “Hi”.

    Are Double Doubles a double cheeseburger type item with two slices of cheese –one being between the beef patties the other on the top pattie?

  53. “See, Tolladay, now I’m going to go crazy trying to remember when it was you met me. Which brings the point home about my memory these days.”

    Keerist, you think its bad now, wait until your 45, and need reading glasses as well.

    LA Times Book Fair on the UCLA campus, last year. IIRC, Sunday afternoon. I had my son with me, and must have said I was a big fan of your website about a dozen times.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on a photo-shoot with a hollywood star, and remained cool as a cucumber, but put me in front of an author, and toss out the brain.

  54. Oh, man. I was definitely toast then. I remember sitting down and expecting a few people to pop round to get a book signed and instead I had a line that just kept going. I was just trying to get everyone’s books signed. Great day for my ego, but not for making a great personal connection with anyone in line.

  55. I hope I wasn’t too socially awkward when I met Scalzi at Penguicon a couple years ago. I’d *just* discovered and read OMW and checked out his website and saw that he was going to be at a con not 30 mins from my house that weekend.

    So, John, I have you to thank for getting me to go to Penguicon, which is now probably my favorite con.

    I did really enjoy meeting you and talking about OMW and Heinlein and stuff.

    I hope I didn’t come across as too much of a stalker as it seemed like I wound up attending every panel you were on. Just coincidence, though, really.

    Hope to see you at Penguicon again this year, if you are going to attend. I’ll try not to stalk you so much this time…

  56. I think I may have been spoiled on this by working staff on cons a number of times in my teens and twenties. There’s nothing like having to work with and help the (author, movie / tv star, famous person in general) to get you over either the afraid-of-saying-hi or the overactive-hyper-fan-jitters. And the expectation that they’re always going to be alert and social (as pointed out by John and others, doing cons and events is a personal energy management problem).

    Once you get comfortable enough with the people parts and meeting people, it can be a lot of fun. I got to introduce a major author and one of his characters once (Vernor Vinge and Henry Spencer, the inspiration for Sandor at the Zoo in A Fire Upon the Deep). And I’ll never forget Terry Pratchett walking up to my wife at Conjose during a quiet moment away from the crowds and saying something to the effect of “Hello, Lee, how are you doing? Is this your husband?” They’d met a couple of years before at a booksigning, and he remembered, which was most cool.

    If you want to get to know authors, I recommend:
    A. Be interesting yourself (most of you are, but tend to suppress it in the presence of perceived greatness)
    B. Have enough social clue, as John and others point out, to try and meet them at a time and place where they have bandwidth available to meet you back (much of the time at cons they don’t)
    C. Don’t be bashful
    D. Don’t be yet another slathering fanboy/girl. Intelligent praise and smart friendly discussion goes a lot further than the thousandth “Oh my god I LOVE your work” they’ll hear that day…

  57. I have a picture of me turning into a completely dizzy fanboi next to China. He wasn’t the first author I’d met, and I’d managed to act like a calm sentient being through his book reading, talk, Q&A and a friendly introduction … up to the moment when the photo was taken … and then realising I’d possibly just generated a leg-humping aura, was too embarrassed to ask for the picture to be retaken.

  58. Some additional points of advice, from a lesser known writer/artist/editor:

    1) If I’m on my cell phone, then I’m *on the phone*. It’s hard enough to hear on a cell in the midst of a convention. I don’t need you interrupting. Please wait until I’m finished talking and have put the phone away before you approach.

    2) Whenever I’m at a table signing books or art, or in my case potentially sketching, remember that the table is a personal barrier that enforces my personal space. You don’t need to lean across the table to shake my hand; when I’m ready to shake your hand I’ll extend it so that you can reach. And for crying out loud, if I’m drawing, do NOT lean over me to see what I’m doing or to try to get my attention. I might just pick my head up and crack you under the chin. (Yes, this has happened. MORE THAN ONCE.) First politely try to get my attention, and if I’m too engrossed in what I’m doing at the moment, and another talent is nearby, get THEIR attention and ask them to tap me on the shoulder or something. If there is just me, I’m usually more attentive to my surroundings, but okay, maybe I’m just really concentrating on the work. Wait until I’ve leaned back from the page for a moment and try again. As long as the pencil / pen is not near the page. That’s the key. Same goes for authors signing books in bunches for a store or charity event while sitting at a booth. Not everyone can talk and write at the same time, much like there are those who cannot walk and chew gum simultaneously.

    3) Unless I’m working at a booth in editorial capacity, no, I don’t have time or the desire to look at your portfolio or script samples. In fact, time constraints typically don’t offer me or any other editor the ability to give you the review you think you crave. If you *really* want my opinion of your work, then have a business card with a website address featuring sample works. I can’t *promise* I’ll get to looking at it, but I generally do unless I lose the card within 2-3 weeks after a show.

    4) Photo ops: Always ask permission first. If I don’t know you’re taking the picture, I may move when you take the picture and mess it up. Also, like many writers and artists, I have light sensitive eyes from constantly working at the computer or on light boxes. You can imagine the potential havoc of camera flashes.

    5) At conventions, if I’m on the retailer floor and not at my booth / table space, and I have my hands full of belongings – be it my portfolio case or shopping bags – I’m really not available. I may say “hello” if you greet me, but I really don’t want to put my stuff on the floor to shake hands or sign your book or other item(s) with hundreds to thousands walking around. It’s not personal, it’s just I don’t want my stuff getting stepped on by passerby.

    6) This isn’t for me specifically, but for other creators who may have their kids with them. When the kids are with them, and they are not at their designated space, then it’s most likely family time. Try to respect this, because as John says, most authors and artists only have the niche fame and the kids might not understand why mommy / daddy keeps getting bothered by strangers to sign stuff, as it’s not a daily occurrence.

  59. I worked briefly as a p.a.(personal assistant) to a fairly “famous” couple in the sci-fi/fantasy sphere. It was a very interesting experience as far as seeing conventions from the other side of the table. It was also a nightmare in keeping the authors’ time from being Shanghai’d by one or two fans that had to monopolize their attention.

    We ended up developing a body gesture that meant, “I am uncomfortable with this person” or “bail me out now,” so that I could swoop in, let the author now that they were needed elsewhere and save them from having their heads talked off.

    For the most part people got the idea.. I mean out of 3 conventions and 5-6 library talks I only had to physically intervene once. That’s not bad.

    Seeing what fandom was really about for the first time was amazing. I mean to me, these folks were …well, just friends.

    It’s weird what happens when people place others on a pedestal… I don’t think our monkey-brains were meant to handle such reverence.

  60. Hey John. Dayton Ward sent me over here via a link on his blog and I’m sure glad I followed it! Great summary/ recap and very wise words to be sure. I’m still often taken aback at folks asking similar questions on “how do I approach…”. We’re only human! Be civil!! And that especially means leaving them alone if they’re in the bathroom!! (unfortunately, a serious issue to some fans in the comic book community :) )

    Thanks for the morning giggles! :)

  61. Yeah, John, I met you at Festival of Books last year, too.
    I was one of the early arrivals, so your energy level was fine.

    I just went to my first meeting of LASFS last night, and I feel I perhaps have found a home.
    Looking forward to seeing you at LosCon!

  62. On the flip side of this fame thing (and I think Scalzi makes excellent points about authors, actors, etc. being human), I worked on a HUGE project for a year that required me to travel quite a bit to LA while writing a LOT of material for the project. At the end of the project, they had a big “star studded” grand opening, complete with star walk, klieg lights, the whole bit (it was LA, after all). So, all of us (designers, writer, consultants, etc.) who worked on the project were invited to do the star turns, etc., in front of the press, who, of course, couldn’t have cared less about us because we weren’t Angie Dickinson, Harrison Ford, etc. who were also there to give the place some deserved glitz, but otherwise had nothing to do with the actual work of making the project as good as it was.

    But, watching the invited stars do their thing made me appreciate anonymity, no matter how good I am as a writer and at my art… at least I don’t have TV crews asking inane questions…

  63. I guess some translation might be needed for your Canadian readers with regards to Adam Rakunas’ comment … up here, a ‘Double-Double’ means a coffee from Tim Horton’s (a hockey player who opened a doughnut shop which is now ubiquitous and much-loved) with Double cream and Double sugar. So, from whence cometh the cheesy goodness?

    I’m actually a transplant to Canada from the UK, and I revel in these linguistic hiccups. I’ve found that the major things you accommodate at once, but the little differences still occasionally haunt me. Like when I asked my five-year-old, in front of a bunch of adults, to make sure she had a rubber in her pencil-case …

  64. If I’m at a con and want to say “hi, I like your books” to someone, I often go to their signings–I don’t want books *signed*, mind, it’s not my thing, but people are usually okay with “I don’t have anything to be signed, I just wanted to say I liked your books, particularly X”. If the line is short, I’ll sometimes add “also, can I ask Y,” or if the line is nonexistent and it seems like we might have a conversation, I might step to the side and chat. (I prepare X and Y ahead of time.)

    (If the line is long, I’ll either let people who really want their books signed go ahead of me or just leave it at that.)

    A harmless all-purpose conversational starter, if you find yourself next to your favorite author when you’re both in a conversationally-appropriate situation, is something along the lines of how they’re finding the con so far.

  65. As the wife of comic book old god Len Wein, let me add:

    1. If you’ve gone up to famous writer and start babbling along and realize that the male or female in the company of said writer has a curious look on his or her face, realize (a) writer doesn’t remember who you are or he or she would have made introductions so (b) introduce yourself to the second person before you hear words to the effect of “Hello, I’m Christine Valada, Len’s wife. And you would be?” I’m doing that so the spouse gets a clue who you are. This is a corollary to point 1 above.

    2. Without specific encouragement (as in “oh, so and so, let me introduce you to….”), later don’t just worm your way into a small circle of pros including the one you’ve met briefly and participate in the conversation, follow them to dinner, or otherwise intrude. Conventions are business meetings for writers, artists, agents, and publishers. Respect that reality please.

    3. We don’t mind the brief intrusion at a restaurant of “Excuse me, I’m a huge fan, and I hope we’ll have a chance to talk later in the convention.” Let’s face it, conventions are huge (Denvention not so much, but Comicon sure is) and people aren’t that likely to actually run into someone that often. Len tells the story of passing Alfrie Woodard in Toronto’s airport and not being able to bring himself to say hello. We walked past her at the WGA Awards about 10 years ago and he spun on his heel to go back and tell her what a big fan he was and about the early near-encounter. She was incredibly gracious and said he should have spoken with her. I was on a plane with David Selby and was similarly reluctant; when I saw him at the Studio City farmer’s market a few years later I did speak to him and he even told me why he was on the same plane. Very nice man. Most of the time, you don’t get a second chance, so don’t let the moment pass you by. You will regret it.

    4. Krissy’s bat has nothing on my cold shoulder. I can freeze a room (and have.) Find someplace else to be, immediately.

  66. This thread reminds me of Kathy Li’s encounter with Joss Whedon. :-)

    I took my fangirl shot. I asked the Whedon if I could ask him just one burning question? And he graciously assented.

    I knelt before the table, and planted my elbows on it, so I could look Joss in the eye, leaned in, and asked, “How cool was it meeting Stephen Sondheim?”

    He touched me. Grabbed my shoulder, and said, “Dude! It was…!” And then poured forth a fanboy geeking that I would have been proud to claim as my own.

  67. (fortunately my regular commentors here are more socialized than that. Right? Right?!?).

    So I thought, but maybe there’s a reason we’ve never been in the same city at the same time, despite your multiple appearances in the general Los Angeles area. Do you know something I don’t, Scalzi?

    That said, I would be cucumber cool on the outside were we ever to meet (years of working in entertainment and politics have honed that skill), but inside I would totally be all Japanese school-girl squealing. I’m an inside-squealing kind of gal.

  68. One of my favorite stories like this is the time I was having Henry Rollins sign a book after one of his spoken word shows. It was raining out and kind of chilly and some idiot walked up to Henry and said “can my girlfriend see your back tattoo” which of course would have required Henry practically taking his shirt off. I thought Henry handled it well, with a very stern “No”.

  69. A few more tips:

    Does someone you know maybe know the person? Ask for an introduction.

    If the convention is local, VOLUNTEER. Hell, even if it’s not local and you can swing it. You get to meet people and help them out, and they are grateful to you. How cool is that?

    Someone else already pointed a strategy of bringing the writer something that they are fond of and maybe can’t get easily where they are. This strategy is very viable, just don’t be offended if the writer politely refuses your gift for whatever reason.

    If the writer’s spouse or significant other is around, do not ignore her (or him; let’s be equal opportunity here); if you feel you are intruding, apologize to the S.O. or spouse as well. Acknowledge that they are human beings and neat persons in their own right. Congratulations, you’ve made double the good impression!

    Give the writer’s brain a break if you do happen to get into a conversation. If you two share a particular interest or hobby, talk about that instead of quizzing the writer about the particular motivations of a character in chapter 5, paragraphs 1 through 10.

    Hope this helps!

  70. Yeah, I met China at Eastercon a couple of weeks ago. I fangirled a bit, but I’m ashamed to admit that the emphasis there isn’t on the ‘fan’ so much as on the ‘girl’: I’d been expecting to meet this brilliant and terrifying author whose works I love, but nobody told me that he was also probably the most beautiful man I have ever laid eyes on in my entire life…

  71. I once met John Scalzi as he was going down an escalator and I was going up. He was wearing the Campbell Regalia, which he had won the night before, and I complimented him on the look and congratulated him on his win
    That’s the extent of My Meeting With Scalzi.

    Next time, I’d like to buy him a refreshing beverage. Herr Scalzi, will you take an IOU?

    When I’m not attending cons, I like to go to concerts: generally small concerts by obscure bands. I’ve ended up befriending a number of bands and selling merch for them, which leads to hanging out with them as I tally up the night’s take. Nice folks all. And there is one thing I’ve learned from hanging out with these micro-celebrities that I suspect transfers to all celebrities:
    They know that there are crazies in their fanbase. EVERY fanbase has a few loons. They also know that not all their fans are like that; and, furthermore, that you, personally, are not one of the crazy people, unless you give them a reason to think otherwise. You need not apologize for some nut doing something inappropriate that you think reflects badly on the fandom. Just be cool, and the objects of your admiration will know that you are cool by your coolness.

  72. Hi John,

    I found this via a link on Neil Gaiman’s journal, and I think it’s a great summary of What To Do and What Not To Do when meeting a favorite author. In fact, if the other members of my committee agree, I might like to include some of this in the website FAQs for the 2009 North American Discworld Convention (of which I am Vice-Chair and Webmaster). Would that be ok, assuming I credit you appropriately? (Website is

    I have had some fun experiences meeting authors and celebrities – I find that not thinking too much about what I will say beforehand leads to the most interesting interactions. I don’t think I’ve ever had the not-able-to-speak response, but I do imagine I was a bit flushed on meeting Neil for the first time. :)

    The funniest celebrity-meeting experience I had recently was when I went to see my favorite musician, who was doing a rare US tour of small acoustic shows. Before the show, I was sitting at the bar and looking around for another stool for my boyfriend, who was on his way there. At the back of the bar was this guy with his head propped on his elbow, and behind him was the only other empty stool. So I went up and kind of touched his shoulder and said, “excuse me” and lo, it turned out to be the musician himself (it was dark, or I would have known sooner!). And I had woken him up! I felt terrible about that, but it turned out to be fine and we had a chat and ended up hanging out after the show (with several other fans). It was a great experience, but also a good reminder that authors (and performers) are human just like the rest of us, even to the point of getting tired and falling asleep at the bar right before a performance!

    (And then there was the time I spoke with Terry at the National Book Festival and he took off his shirt in front of all of us on the National Mall…)

  73. I am definitely one of those people that gets overcome with uncommon shyness when around people I’ve idolized. Everyone I have met, however, has been very nice about it, even when it was sometimes obvious that they were very tired. I don’t know how you guys do it; I’m not that tolerant. I’d have snapped at me for being a blithering idiot long ago, I’m sure! So from the normally-quite-scathingly-eloquent but suddenly-stammering-silent-shy quotient of the fanbase, I’d like to give a very large THANK YOU to every writer that’s ever been unnecessarily kind to the starstruck sillies surrounding them.

    Anyway, this was a fantastic post; I feel like I should be directing everyone from the comic book shop I work at over here. Although we do have a seemingly unusually high percentage of socially adept customers for a comic book store, but it’s probably my duty to share this just on principle of it being brilliant, and us being fans. Still, you should see us trip over ourselves whenever someone famous comes in. I remember I used to be completely unable to form a coherent sentence the first few times Josh Middleton came into the store to check his subscription. And lo, he turned out to be a regular person, too, go figure. At least shyness meant I hadn’t fangirled all over the poor man, and could later speak without awkwardness when I found my voicebox again! So if you know you’re going to make a complete fool of yourself, probably better to walk away, spazz a bit in private, calm down, and come back with the ability to speak like a regular person to the celeb in question. Better to be patient than to be annoying!

  74. I can very much relate to the “Young Writer” – I met Neil Gaiman at a book fair last year and was so afraid of a) not being able to say anything, or b) babbling on about complete rubbish, or c) fainting, or d) screaming like a crazy teenage fangirl. So I wrote all the beautiful things I wanted to tell him on a card I gave to him (along with chocolates and a bottle of Scotch – see, I read Pratchett, too! ;) ). And he signed everything I had with me, and posed for sooo many pictures with me, and drew on my red balloon and was just amazing altogether… How the hell will I NOT faint next time!?
    Oh, yeah – and there was that time I ended up having dinner with Anthony McCarten and a bunch of publishing people after his reading/Q&A/signing at a small local bookstore. I heartily recommend the experience. And not just because his Swiss publisher paid. ;)

  75. I was likewise at Eastercon *waves hello to Persephone Hazard* and had the immense honor to meet one of my favorite writers ever, Tanith Lee.

    And I burst into tears the first time I spoke to her.

    Fortunately, she seemed to take it in stride. I was much more together for all my subsequent encounters with her, which was good.

  76. A further note on the T-shirt signing— I went to an artists’ panel which had Kelly Freas and chickened out, asking the younger guy at the table for his signature. And he turned around and asked Freas to sign.

    And… Denver does not have In-N-Out. Denver does, however, have Good Times. The menu is more complicated but the beef is local and not frozen (therefore tasty) and they have this thing called frozen custard, which is even creamier than full-fat ice cream.

    Or you can get buffalo burgers at several places, such as My Brother’s Bar, not too far from the convention center. They call it a “Ralphie burger” after the University of Dolorado mascot. Highly recommended.

    I haven’t lived in Denver for several years and I still know more good restaurants there than I do for my current slice of suburbia. Thank goodness we got a Thai place in. Now all we need is a close Indian place and we’re set.

  77. For whatever reason I seem to handle “celebrities are people” just fine. This has led to several interesting conversations with various authors, actors, or other such well-known folk, sometimes without my knowledge of their identity coming into the picture.

    I think I may have learned it from my first ever con (Whovian), wherein I was hijacked by the GOH (Colin Baker) to engage in a long (and quite interesting) conversation with him tucked into a corner so that I and a large potted plant shielded him from view. Apparently it was the first time in several hours he’d been able to take a break from fan assault.

    The lesson I took away at that point was that people like to talk to people they find interesting, and who find them interesting – not people trying to tie them up and take them home or falling in drooling puddles at their feet.

    So far this tactic has worked quite well. The only time I’ve been dissappointed was when an actor (who shall remain nameless) turned out to be several degrees dumber, weirder, and generally creepier than the character he played. Even then I had a conversation; it was just that it was me looking for a polite way to exit in a hurry.

  78. I see that I might become a regular reader, thanks to your blog. It will accomplish its purpose, and make someone entirely unfamiliar with your work as yet wonder, what is this guy capable of producing?

    Meanwhile, I wanted to point you and your more faithful readers and fans toward a similar essay written a few months back by Stephen Fry, entitled “Let Fame”:

    If my syntax is wrong, the link will probably still work.

    Happy reading and conventioning. My mom wouldn’t let me attend Boskone back in the early 80’s when I really wanted to, and now I live in the south of France, and can’t conscionably make the trip to that or anything similar. I attend plenty of conferences but they tend to be entitled “World Conference in Interventional Neuroradiology” or “European Course in Clinical Dysmorphology” or otherwise “{region of the world} {course/conference/convention} in {adjective}{something-ology}”. Mad Libs!

  79. Great post-it reminds me however that many people are just rude and also assume huge amounts of familiarity with people they don’t know-often the “famous” but also people who’s circumstances they think they know enough about (without knowing the actual person) that they feel comfortable approaching them in public and starting very personal conversations.

    We built our family through adoption and as such my kids don’t look like us in the least. When China adoptions were new and not so common as they seem today I would constantly be stopped when I was out with Em and asked all manner of really rude questions (the classic being “is it true they kill the girls?”). For the longest time I tried to be polite, educate the ignorant etc, but sometimes you just want to buy your groceries and get home so I learned to smile and walk and not make eye contact. This only worked with a small number of people, others followed. This behavior isn’t limited to situations like mine, a friend of mine told me that she was in a clothing store and the salesperson, noting my friends turban (she is fighting breast cancer) proceeded to tell her about every dead breast cancer patient she knew.

    So, anyway, I developed the ability to be rude back. It’s not right. I should be ashamed. I shouldn’t even bother. However, when someone insists on following me after I have politely ignored them, politely told them I don’t discuss personal matters with strangers etc, sometimes, if I am in the right mood, I ask them some questions. Questions like “Can you have multiple orgasms? Is that a face lift? What is your gross income?” Invariably I get a shocked gasp and a “How dare you ask such a personal question?” I smile and say “my point” and move on.

    Which is a long way of saying that sometimes people are rude no matter what and there doesn’t seem to be any good way of dealing with them.

  80. Like Emily (#87) I found this post via Neil Gaiman’s link, and am very grateful for its etiquette suggestions. I myself have gone fangirly over the women’s vocal group Kitka (some of whom didn’t speak English but read my appreciation of their music through my body language) and over Elisabeth Kolbert, author of a book on global warming, who I met at an environmental conference. I hope that during my lifetime I’ll get the chance to go fangirly for Neil, too.

  81. Is *that* how competition works in the author field? Shatter your rival’s concentration enough that he can’t ever get it together again.

    *Savage*, Mr. Scalzi. It’s like wild kingdom.

    Good advice for meeting people. :) I’ve probably inadvertently trampled all over one or two points in my time, as I’ve started attending cons and actually meeting The Lofty– I *know* I’ve fallen afoul of the ‘ask first’ rule for picture taking, but in my defence, I was taking one of something else, and only after I’d finished realised that Someone Big was in the frame. I apologised- does that expiate the sin?

    I’d like to link to this for a couple of people I know who’re attending a con for the first time this year, if that’s okay

  82. I’m using my Nokia N800 to browse right now, and for some reason In ‘N Out’s menu won’t display. I tried a Google search and ended up with a L. A. Times Magazine article from two years ago about a legal battle involving the company and expansion which sounds as if the quality may soon drop like a stone. (Brings to mind the time someone asked Harlan Sanders about current KFC quality and KFC sued him. As part of the follow-up they allowed him to run one store in secret to disprove his claim that the dry ingredients in the batter had to be mixed no moree than 48 hours in advance. KFC was not happy when the store sales skyrocketed, and were even less happy when it was revealed…) For those of us in the Seattle area, what makes a Double Double better than a Dick’s Deluxe?

  83. Had an experience at SPX a few years back. Talking w/a group of young fans in a hallway and they mention how much they love Jeff Smith and BONE but too nervous/shy to approach him. Providentially, Mr. Smith comes walking down the hall. I say, “Hey, Jeff! Love the new issue of BONE, man!” Jeff says, “Thanks, man, I appreciate it,” then goes on his way. I turn to the group and say, “See?”

  84. I can vouch for the goodness of the Good Times burger. Also, be notified that their Guacamole Burger is owie owie spicy hot. This is not spelled out on their menu and may come as a surprise. I mean, yes, that I view guacamole as a coolant rather than a heat source is possibly strange, but it’s surprisingly fiery even considering that.

  85. Oddly enough I met Robert Silverberg when he had the “how do I get to the panel” look on his face. We were at V-Con in Vancouver BC and he wasn’t sure where his next panel was.

    I ended up leading him there– and figuring out the directions on the way.

  86. I’m actually rather disappointed to hear that China Mieville is a nice person. His bio indicates that he has led a rather interesting life, he’s young, he’s intelligent, he’s good looking (straight male speaking. I may be way off here), he writes bizarre and interesting books; is it really too much to ask that he be a jerk to counterbalance all of that? Seriously. Bad hygiene? Kicks puppies? Anything?

    I can confirm, however, that Neil Gaiman manages to remain charming and upbeat even after his reading has run on too long (man loves to hear himself talk) and he’s signed books for eleventy billion people (I was the eleventy billion and first).

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