Talk Amongst Yourselves
Posted on March 2, 2010 Posted by John Scalzi 106 Comments
I’m returning from a previously unscheduled trip and then catching up on work and then running errands, so the chances of me updating today until much later are pretty slim. So until I get back, please feel free to chat amongst yourselves. As a conversational starter, here’s a question:
What’s the longest distance you’ve traveled to see an author?
Meaning that you traveled specifically to see that author, not that the author happened to be at a convention that you traveled some distance to get to.
Have fun with the question, and catch up with you all a bit later.
OK, this is tricky. When I was backpacking in England, I found out Zadie Smith was at the Hay on Wye festival, so I decided to go there, and I was in Edinburgh at the time. So, Edinburgh to Hay on Wye. How far is that? Too damn far.
When I walked into the Barnes & Noble on Union Square one day last year, there was a sign saying that some author (can’t remember who and have never read his stuff), was talking on the 3rd floor. I stopped in for a few minutes.
Disclaimer: I was headed up to the 4th floor for the fiction section, so I would have passed by the talk anyway. Does that count?
Ten miles. It was some kid named Scalzi. He could be going places, that one.
I flew from Atlanta to London because of Tanith Lee.
I nervously walked up to her and said “I came all the way from the United States of America to see you, and I think that says it all.”
And then I burst into tears.
She was very kind (and seemed genuinely baffled that anybody would go to that much effort to see her) and I will treasure that moment for the rest of my days.
Mons, Belgium to London see Bruce Sterling at Forbidden Planet. And spend the weekend in London.
Back when I was younger and had more disposable income, I flew from Atlanta to Boston with a friend, met up with two others there, and road-tripped to Ottawa to see Charles de Lint (who, at the time, was regularly performing with his wife at a pub). Of course, we also spent time enjoying the gorgeous city (which really is one that everyone should visit), but CDL was the motivating factor for the trip.
Drove 150 miles to catch Harlan Ellison lecture at Notre Dame. Also flew a couple of years later from Indy to St. Paul so catch him, but was going to MiniCon anyway. What can I say, it was Harlan!
I went to New York City to see Ken Bruen and Jason Starr.
Of course, I was friends with them, it was my 40th birthday, and I wanted to write a couple of articles as an excuse to write off a vacation.
I traveled from New York City to Niagra Falls to meet Mike Resnick, who was GoH at a convention there. I would not have gone to the convention were it not that I wanted to meet Mike.
I honestly cannot think of a time when I made a huge long trip to see a specific author. I was only an autograph hound for a very short period during the youngest days of my SF fandom, and so it was really only at conventions that I’d meet authors. But that was always inspiring to me at that age. These days I still ove to meet authors, but don’t usually have a stack of books for them to sign at the ready.
Now I can think of a few long lines I’ve stood in. One was for Clive Barker, who, I thought, was overdoing the fake “nice to fans” thing a bit much. I mean, I’m sure he is nice, but his way of smiling hugely and saying “Wow, cool!” to everything a fan said to him seemed to be laying it on a bit thick. Still, at least he was doing that, and not being openly indifferent or even contemptuous, as I’ve sadly seen some writers do.
Stood in a long line to see Al Franken, too. Very nice guy, but you tended to get rushed through as though on a conveyor belt. There were after all 1200 people at that signing.
Anyway, speaking of awesome writers, I am giving away my ARC of Guy Gavriel Kay’s brilliant new book Under Heaven in a random Twitter drawing tomorrow, so follow me if you’d like a chance to get it. I’d make a serious drive to see Kay, definitely. And probably a few others, like Barry Hughart, who I’m sad isn’t still publishing. Fantasy blew off a fantastic talent there.
I’ve driven from Atlanta, GA to Peoria, IL (about 725 miles) to see Philip José Farmer maybe 20 times between 1997 and 2009. Sadly his 91st birthday was my last trip to see him as he past away last February. Hard to believe it’s already been a year.
I’ve also driven to Charleston, SC for a Robert Jordan book signing and once I took my daughter out of school early to take her to Birmingham, AL for a Christopher Paolini book signing.
So John, if you do a signing within a couple hundred miles of Atlanta, I’ll probably be there.
Does three authors count? I went from New York to Baltimore to see Gaiman, Peter Beagle and Gene Wolfe at a Balticon. I think Balticon robs banks. No other con I know of can even afford those three at the same time.
I flew from Washington D.C. to Madison, WI to go see George RR Martin. He was just as awesome as I thought he’d be, and very gracious when my friends and I went through the autograph line 7 times. : )
Norwalk, CT to Ann Arbor MI – 660 miles.
To see Robert Heinlein. As a plus I also got to see and talk with Frederik Pohl and several other authors.
This was in 1977 when Robert Heinlein was presented with an honorary Doctorate from Eastern Michigan University. You had to donate a pint of blood to get in to hear Heinlein talk and it was worth every drop.
But the greatest part of that trip was meeting and talking to Frederik Pohl at a cocktail party later that night. For me, Heinlein in person was intimidating and made me feel inadequate while Pohl was the opposite. I don’t think I’ve ever met a person that I liked so much so quickly as Frederik Pohl.
From the 3rd floor to the lobby… :)
I travelled from Florida to Connecticut to see RA Salvatore. I was a raving TSR fan boy then and I would have made the trip for the janitor from TSR was there.
By the way, Bob Salvatore is a great guy, down to earth and funny.
drove 3000 miles to see Wil Wheaton. then 3000 miles back..
I’ve flown from Atlanta to San Fransisco just to visit Seanan McGuire, but we’re old friends, so I don’t know if that counts. :)
I traveled 2 hours with my 2 small kids to see the Yarn Harlot. She is incredibly gracious and very funny. It was worth it, for the most part.
When I was in college, I made the same ~150 mile car trip from my college town to my hometown several times to see authors. (No authors ever came to my college town.)
Flew from Chicago to Pittsburgh to see one John Scalzi. Although I had a free flight (comp for taking a bump on a previous trip) so not sure if it counts.
I drove about 250 miles to see Neil Gaiman. I think that was an entirely reasonable thing to do. He even signed my copy of Ultimate Sandman volume 2.
I went about 25 miles from NJ to NYC to see J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and John Irving at Radio City Music Hall, where they each read a chapter from one of their books. It was called “An Evening with Harry, Carrie and Garp.”
For book signings, I went about 3.5 miles in NYC to meet Terry Gilliam and Clive Barker on different occasions.
A couple blocks from work to the Barnes & Noble on 16th street in Denver to see Tad Williams.
I drove from Columbus to Cleveland (~200 miles) for Neil Gaiman.
Approximately 150 miles to see both Diana Wynne Jones *AND* the UK premiere of “Howl’s Moving Castle” (which was a trip all its own as I only half remembered the book, so I couldn’t remember how much of the anime was actually from the book!).
The irony to this one is that SHE had travelled the same approximately 150 miles to be there too. If we’d been organised, we could have carpooled…
The only authors I’ve met were Bob Forward and Anne McCaffrey at MosCon X, back 88. Is the only con I’ve been to; girl I knew broke up with boy friend and had tickets. Didn’t get anywhere with her though.
Not really understanding the whole travel to meet an author but then I’m not that sociable and prefer my interactions over the computer.
Hm, I’d say that specifically, probably two hours, to Brattleboro Vermont to see mystery writer Archer Mayor. Nice guy, signed some of my books. A tossup would probably be a train ride from London to Oxford to meet Philip Pullman and Brian Aldiss, about an hour or so out.
I was on vacation in CA and went to Mysterious Galaxy for a Neal Stephenson signing and the only reason I mention it is when I got back I then drove from Orlando to Atlanta to see Stephenson again while he was on the same tour so I could get my older books signed. Granted I had a friend with me that wanted to go to the signing as well.
The distance from the couch to the on button on the TV, when I couldn’t find the remote and an interesting author was on “Biography” or similar shows.
Obviously, I’m an amateur at the whole fan thing.
Nowhere as yet (authors seldom come to New Zealand) but later this month I’m going to Wellington (from Christchurch) to see Neil Gaiman. Neil Gaiman will be in my country! And I’m going to *see* him! Eeee!
I once drove 30 miles to get John Varley’s autograph. I later drove another 30 miles to get Spider Robinson’s autograph.
I miss Change of Hobbit bookstore. Santa Monica has not been the same since it closed.
New York to Orlando to visit Andre Norton; went by train, and of course we did some other stuff while we were there. But the visit to Andre was very much part of the plan, and one of my more memorable trips.
Even more fun was a couple of years later when Andre was traveling by train to Noreascon in Boston and Jane and I got to sit with her for the part of the ride north from NYC, pointing out fun stuff like osprey nests along the route.
I’ve also traveled considerable distances =with= a few authors, including a cross-country trip from NYC to Seattle where Gene Wolfe got on the train in Chicago and we spent a fair amount of time hanging out.
I went from Richmond, Indiana (west on 70 from Dayton until you hit the border. Welcome to Richmond) to ConFusion in Detroit one year because Scott Westerfeld and Justine who’s last name I’m about to misspell Larbalestier were there.
But the toastmaster guy was the one who tipped me off, and he’s pretty cool too, so one could say I went to see all three of them.
In any case, it ended up being the most awesome convention ever. Very well-run, met many wonderful people, loved every panel I went to, and ended up purchasing my own weight in books by the panelists from the dealer’s room. And crolly hap, there was real food in the consuite.
About 5 miles to see Larry Niven, but I think I deserve extra credit because I had to ditch work to go.
I drove from Pensacola to New Orleans to attend an Anne Rice book signing.
I probably also took in a movie and dinner to make a day of it.
I also regularly drove from Corpus Christi to Houston to attend book signings at Murder by the Book. I recall a Sue Grafton signing, but cannot think of any others off the top of my head.
About 120 miles to see Tad Williams. He was GoH at a con at my old college, but I probably wouldn’t have gone to the con if he hadn’t been there. He was extremely gracious and signed all of my books (some I had both hardback and paperback) with really nice personal notes (luckily for me, the line wasn’t too long). When I go back to read the books, I always delight in seeing the inscriptions he wrote!
Tom McSally @14 gets my vote for the winning entry..
I’ve always wished I had met RAH. The closest I got was a visit to Bonny Doon after his death.
Back when the my favorite indie SF store was still open, I drove 100 miles a couple of times when John Ringo was doing signings for the 2nd and 3rd Posleen books. Like many people, he seemed much nicer in person than online.
Long before that I travelled about 20 miles to see a talk by Isaac Asimov.
10 miles for James Burke, if he counts as an SF author for “After The Warming”.
I’ve met lots of other SF authors at cons over the years.
I traveled about 500 miles to my first Worldcon in 1986 (Confederation) in Atlanta to meet Ray Bradbury. When I finally made it through the line to meet him, I could barley talk to him because I was so nervous! He was very kind and signd my books for me. Harlon Ellison was there as well, but I went to see Bradbury.
Drove from Orlando, FL to Asheville, NC to see Ishmael Beah. The trip was about 600 miles.
South Austin to downtown Austin to see Joe Haldeman.
I had a solid hour’s drive braving Dallas traffic to meet Dick Francis, so figure about 50 miles. Fifty miles in Texas is longer than 50 miles elsewhere, but I’m danged if I can explain it.
Mr. Francis was cheerfully polite despite a HUGE crowd in a small store, and even called me “luv” when I thanked him for being one of my writing mentors. Not sure if he got what I was saying, but he was sooooo nice it didn’t matter.
:a few years post-event Elrod cuts loose with a fangirl “squeeee” and faints:
I drove about three miles to see some dude named Scalzi at Uncle Hugo’s in Minneapolis. He signed my copy of Old Man’s War something like, “Dan – I swear I’m not drunk!” Or somesuch.
Either 190 or 600+ miles to see Pat Cadigan.
The 190 miles was to a gaming convention in Fort Worth; as I recall, Richard “Rogue Warrior” Marcinko was one of the other guests. (I’m not a gamer; I went with a friend just to see Ms. Cadigan.)
The 600+ miles was to El Paso for a Westercon; I probably wouldn’t have gone if Ms. Cadigan wasn’t one of the guests.
But she’s one of a handful of people who I’d walk 500 miles, and then I’d walk 500 more, just to be the man who walked 1000 miles to fall down at her door.
LA to Boston to see Terry Pratchett at a Worldcon. Wouldn’t have gone that far for anyone else.
I’ve not traveled to see an author. Like tornadoes, I prefer to see them on TV.
But, it does sound like you put on a heck of a show, especially when you’re with fellow authors.
Well, specifically to “See an Author” would be drving to Scottsdale to see S.M. Stirling at The Poisoned Pen. So about 30 miles.
In high school I drove tot he next town over to see Ray Bradbury, also about 30 miles.
At ConFransisco I stood in line for over an hour to get some books signed by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. WorldCon, they were the GoHs, and the con only schedualed a 1-hour autographing session. The line was about 3 hours long.
Jerry was very gracious (he alwyas has been) and found another spot to sit down at and continued to sign books for some time afterward.
On the other hand, there have been a few cons I have gone to where the chioce of Author GoH was enough to tip the scales into going to a con that I otherwise would not have. So that would put it at about 400 miles (Phoenix to San Diego) to see Verner Vinge. But that’s an example of “hey a con plus Vinge” let’s go.
These days the music guest is just as likely to be my make or break.
All of about zero. I don’t really like to meet my heroes.
Does dating an author count? When I was in college, I traveled from Florida to California to see one I had a casual romance going with (and also to vacation in California).
Going to see a writer specifically for that writer’s work… not very far, I’m afraid. 15 miles to hear Haynes Johnson talk about “The Best of Times.”
But I should note that I live in Seattle, where there are almost more venues for authors to appear at than there are cats to swing at them.
About 100 miles (Adelanto, CA to Santa Monica, CA) for a book signing. Just one author doing a signing. No convention.
I was young and stupid.
I wanted to see Holly Black and some other authors at the National Book Festival in DC, since I live in Virginia/Maryland, but I couldn’t go because I had school. So it doesn’t count. =(
About 127 miles, per mapquest to see our esteemed host. The operatic rendition of the first chapter of The Android’s Dream was unforgettable.
I flew from Edmonton, Alberta to Portland, Oregon to attend the USGBC GreenBuild conference, and then rented a car to travel another 200 miles to meet Ianto Evans, author of “The Hand-sculpted House” (how to build environmentally friendly homes from cob).
He was very kind and invited me to an organically grown vegetarian lunch from his garden.
I had hoped to meet Ursula K. LeGuin in Portland as well, but she was unavailable (though I have two postcards from her which I treasure!).
I traveled 50 miles to hear Chuck Palahniuk speak, and now having heard him speak, I would gladly travel much further. He is fantastic.
I traveled from Washington DC to Minneapolis, MN to see, hear, and obtain an autograph from Robert Bloch.
One thing I’ve never understood is why someone would bring a big stack of items for an author to sign. One signature is all I need. The only reason one would want more than a single signature, it seems to me, would be to sell their booty on the secondary market; which seems rather mercenary and disrespectful to me.
Visalia to SF to see Scott Sigler. And did I mention it was the first day of this years NFL playoffs? And I missed the first game completely and the Philly game until the 4th quarter? All worth it to see him and visit Borderlands, which now I wish very much I would have went to when Mr Scalzi was there. Maybe next time. BTW, if you like beer check out City Beer Store while in SF. Third highlight of the trip.
1.7K klicks (1.1K miles) from Boulder to Vancouver to see Spider Robinson. (Love love LOVE Vancouver. Would love an excuse to go back.)
Often don’t have to travel, though, as all sorts of people show up in Denver.
Have driven 46 miles. Glasgow to Edinburgh, to see Richard Dawkins & get his sig. Also took in much of the Science Festival that day, but the main purpose of the journey was to meet the Selfish Jeanster him-self.
By contrast, have also driven 400+ miles (Folkestone) to see Rick Wakeman; authors ain’t rock stars, if that’s what you’re asking! Well, apart from Neil Himself, obviously.
I plan on travelling about 5KM (no idea how many miles) to see Stephen Hawking when he comes to Waterloo Ontario I live in Kitchener which I’ve been waiting a year for. He was suppost to come last June but got sick and had to delay his stay at the Perimeter Institute.
I’m so excited to see him lecture this coming June!!
Dwight Brown @ 45
As earworms go, I don’t mind that one.
Let’s see … I walked somewhat less than a mile to see Harlan Ellison, and the same for Larry Niven. But the latter doesn’t really count because he was guest presenter at a class I would’ve attended anyway.
Harlan Ellison was, well, Harlan Ellison. He blistered the hides of the folks who arranged the appearance but publicize it very well. Then he gave a great talk to the few of us who showed up.
Larry Niven was charming, enthusiastic, funny, and fascinating.
Oh, and once I ran a couple hundred feet to see Spider Robinson, wedged into a much-too-small-for-the-crowd room, and laughed and cried with everyone else as he read a short story that (IIRC) in a much-altered later form became Time Pressure.
I don’t suppose comic writers count… if so, then 10 miles to meet the infamous Jim Lee.
I flew from New Mexico to San Francisco to see a non-fiction writer, Edward Tufte.
the best part of the whole thing is that he owns Galileo’s book “Letters on Sunspots” in 1613. I held in my hands a 400 year old book that Galileo wrote. The book in which he first said that the sun rotates on an axis and is corruptable. which started his troubles with the Jesuits.
I cried when I went back to my seat.
Rode the subway one stop to see Joe Hill this time around. Husband has not finished with HORNS yet.
Longest trip – also Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, AKA the Yarn Harlot – about 175 miles. Knitting group road trip. Had a blast. Theater full of knitters laughing till they cried.
Oddly enough, I disliked her magazine columns, never got into the blog, but really enjoy the books. Go figure.
Do quite so dramatic as the above post, but I drove 13 hours to see Stephen King, my long time favorite since mid-childhood. He talked and signed books and it was worth every minute.
@ Rachel #26
I squee’d, I admit it – I LOVE Howl’s Moving Castle, it’s one of my all-time favourite kids’ books. I still *cry* with laughter at the growing suit. Every. Single. Time. The film is nothing like it, but it’s good too.
I travelled from Glasgow to London(ish) back in 2000 to see Robert Rankin, a legend in his own lunchtime, at Aliens Stole My Handbag. Oh man, the photos are still up!!! Talk about bringing back memories… I looked so young then!!!
24.3 miles to see Neil Gaiman at Balticon back in 2006. I did the same thing to see Charles Stross last year. I really only go to Balticon when there’s an author I like there. As someone who doesn’t remember the Gernsback era, there isn’t normally a whole lot there for me.
Both times were incredibly entertaining. I wish I had recorded the Q&A sessions.
From Louisville to Lexington (about 75 miles) to see Jonathan Carroll.
Interestingly, probably when I drove and hour and a half to see John Scalzi in Portland, OR.
I’m going to fudge this one a little. I traveled about 700 miles to attend the 2007 Heinlein Centennial. I wanted to be around as many people as I could who had met Robert Heinlein in person.
As a bonus I finally got to meet Spider Robinson and his wife Jeane. I hit the fanboy lotto when I visibly impressed Spider & Jeanne with the story I chose for him to autograph (“Magnificent Conspiracy”, if anyone cares). Later that day I sat next to them during the Saturday evening presentation. I even helped Jeane resolve a laptop problem before her Stardancer presentation.
All in all, a great convention.
Oh and I saw some new hot-shot author while I was there. Tended to gesture a lot while he talked. Looked a little wild-eyed if you ask me. Name was Scalvi or somesuch.
I’ve travelled 112 miles to Long Beach, CA to get an autographed copy of Laurell K Hamilton’s newest. Totally worth it, since it finally tipped my long suffering wife into becoming a reader. Now she drags me to the bookstore!
Other than that, I’ll drive anywhere less than 100 miles to meet and greet the authors I love, but usually end up planning it around an event like Comicon or the LA Times Festival of Books. It is nice when authors congregate for my convenience.
Specifically to see two authors, and not tacked onto a vacation road trip: 250 miles from Cincinnati to Ann Arbor, MI in May 2005 to attend a Borders book signing by Robert J. Sawyer (he had just published Mindscan) and Robert Charles Wilson (who had just published Spin, which went on to win the Hugo in 2006—beating out, among others, Old Man’s War, by some upstart whose name escapes me).
In my teens, drove about 20 mi. to see Gene Roddenberry give a talk in Cleveland about the future of space exploration. It was a good talk, but what was even more riveting was that it was my first Trekkie-type event, and as a geek I was no longer alone.
Accidentally tripped (literally) over Roger Zelazny in a con hallway in Columbus, who was gracious enough at that point to sign the Amber book I had brought with me.
Ben Bova gave a lecture at my college in Flint, MI. I think I still have the autographed program flyer. I like to think I fed him a good leading question in the followup Q&A session; he certainly ran with it.
Where I live now I would prefer the authors come to me, and in 98% of the examples, I’m pretty sure they would prefer to come to Hawaii as well. I can’t think of any authors I would make a special trip to leave the state for, unless it was combined with another vacation.
If we restrict the trip to the sole purpose of seeing the author, it was about 60 miles each way to attend a Christopher Moore signing.
If we exclude conventions (which I agree we should) but we include those in which seeing the author was the event that caused other things to coalesce, then round-trip Detroit to San Francisco. Oddly enough, the author was again Chris Moore. The fact that 20 other friends/fans of Chris from around the US were having a meetup (which Chris was unofficially attending) was the real purpose, tho.
Without going to Google.maps to figure it out, it’s a toss-up between Chris Kimball (Cook’s Illustrated, … yes, he wears bow-ties at such affairs (so did I)) at an Edina, MN bookstore, and our host at Uncle Hugo’s in Minneapolis. Around fifteen miles in each case, both trips worth it.
Went to Australia from Berkeley in ’99 to see Terry Pratchett at WorldCon. I’d been thinking about going anyhow, because I’ve been fascinated with Australia since childhood, but I sent Terry an email asking if he’d be there, and he actually answered! I was thrilled. (I told people that I really had to take 3 weeks off work to do that, because otherwise I wouldn’t see him, and then a couple of years later he did a reading at a bookstore a block from my apartment. Sigh…)
When I was 13 I rode a bus 15 miles (which was a big deal to me then) to see Harry Harrison and have him sign my copy of The Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat. I loved those books when I was a kid.
I traveled 17 blocks from my apartment on 98th street to the late, lamented Shakespeare & Co. at 81st and Broadway in order to see Mark Helprin, my idol of idols.
He was much shorter and much funnier than I expected and graciously signed every book I’d lugged with me.
It was only later that I discovered that our politics are at opposite ends of the spectrum. But I still love him.
I drove 800 + miles from Manhattan, KS to Dallas, TX to see Lois McMaster Bujold at ConDFW
5 miles? We have a fantastic independent bookstore here in Jackson, MS (Lemuria) that has great author readings and signings every week. Southerners DO read!! :) Y’all should come down!!
Successfully–about 15 miles each to see Lois McMaster Bujold (at Disclave) and Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Mertz (at a bookstore signing). Once drove about 20 miles to see Jenny Crusie and Bob Mayer at a bookstore signing that turned out to have taken place the previous day…. (Ouch!!)
(Been to many cons, but the Disclave is the only one I wouldn’t have gone to anyway…was BUSY that year.)
I drove for an hour and a half to see some guy sign his books about sheep and aliens and last/lost colonies.
A specific author? I think the closest I came to that was when I went strolling along the Portland, Oregon waterfront in the hopes of stumbling across John Rogers filming Leverage.
Though I do remember the time when I spent a good 15 minutes extolling the virtues of Larry Niven as an author to a very polite, amused gentleman who turned out to be Larry Niven.
From Baltimore to Copenhangen to see Anne McCaffrey, about 4000 miles. I went as much to see fellow friends from around the globe that I knew would be there as Anne herself; definitely would not have journeyed that far without the friends planning to go too.
About 500 miles, Ann Arbor to Minneapolis, to see Terry Pratchett at MiniCon.
It’s probably going to be hard to top the folks who flew in for the 2007 Cambridge, MA XKCD meetup from Australia. It really was just for the meetup — there were at least two who had no interest in anything else in town, and left no time for any. I certainly couldn’t top them, at any rate — I’d just gone a few subway stops.
If we talk actual authors and autographs, Scalzi @ Uncle Hugo’s in Minneapolis.
Hmm, well that’s a tricky question, I had heard that George RR Martin was in Belfast to do a signing, so I decided to catch a plane from Londonover to Ireland to get to see him. Which wasn’t too far. But considering that this was all part of a larger trip, and I’d originally come from Australia it could be much further, I dunno.
Back in November I would have happily driven over 300 miles to see Brandon Sanderson at his DFW stop on the tour for The Gathering Storm. Unfortunately that was the very weekend that we started technical rehearsals for the show I was doing at my local community theater. Missing anything after tech week begins is a Very Bad Thing™ and in some cases can lead to never getting to work on another show.
I struggled with that decision.
That makes the longest distance I’ve traveled to see an author a mere 15(-ish) miles when Malcom Gladwell spoke at the UT branch in the next city over from mine.
Probably the farthest I’ve gone to see a specific author was to go from Phoenix to Los Angeles to see Neil Gaiman on his Anansi Boys tour. Also discovered that Ray Bradbury was making an appearance in suburb for their “one book” day and got to see Ray with a fairly small crowd.
“Though I do remember the time when I spent a good 15 minutes extolling the virtues of Larry Niven as an author to a very polite, amused gentleman who turned out to be Larry Niven.”
Haha… that must have been an awkward introduction for him, and a self-confidence boost too.
Anyway, the farthest I’ve traveled for a book signing is about 5 miles into town, when I was a kid, for a book signing by my favorite childhood author.
It wasn’t a living author, but I did schedule a trip to London (LA to London- 5000+ miles) around the annual celebration of Arthur Ransome’s birthday by the Arthur Ransome Society.
Specifically for a signing? Um. About four miles, that being the distance between my old apartment and Powell’s City of Books (yes, powells.com has a city block of bricks and mortar, if you’re in the area), when Terry Pratchett was in town.
Actually, that one time might be the only time I’ve ever gone looking for an author in person. I’m too lazy to be stalkeriffic in person, I just use the internet for that.
I drove 225 miles from Eastern WA to Portland, Oregon to see Neal Stephenson do a reading/signing for Anathem.
I might not have made that trip, however, if I hadn’t just recently purchased a first edition of Snow Crash after several years of keeping an eye out online for a copy my minimum wage-earning ass could actually afford.
“Ooh, look what he’s got,” Stephenson recognized at once when I handed it to him in the autograph line. I proceeded to blurt several stupid things, but at least remembered to tell him how much I loved Anathem as I was walking away.
Flew from San Francisco to Las Vegas to see Keith DeCandido and Terri Osborne signing books at the Star Trek exhibition. Sure there were other things to do once we got there but the conversation started by me asking my wife “Hey, a couple authors I like are signing books in Vegas. Want to take a weekend trip there?”. She practically had her laptop in hand searching for plane prices before I finished my sentence.
About a two and a half hour drive to a Stephanie Purl-McPhee signing. Would have driven farther (to go to the NYC book launch party) but co-worker wouldn’t swap shifts with me.
Because I am a knitter and large gatherings of knitters are fun, if a bit trippy for the non-knitters.
I once was at a Wargaming Convention in Columbus Ohio and found out that Larry Bond was at the convention running a Harpoon game so I went to find him. In all about 500 yards, so that is the farthest. The shortest distance I have traveled was at another wargaming convention when I wanted to find Frank Chadwick (who has a few nonfiction Titles in addition to his gaming stuff). There was a Big Dinner at the start of the convention and I mentioned to the guy sitting next to me that I wanted to meet Frank. Of course the guy turned out to be Frank.
I Just remembered that I traveled about 30 miles to go to a Airshow where Greggory “Pappy” Boyington was apearing. I got him to sign my copy of “Baa Baa Black Sheep”
The shortest trip was one Wednesday night about a year ago when I was in Powell’s Books in Beaverton, OR with about an hour to kill and they announced over the PA that L. E. Modesitt, Jr. was going to appear in about five minutes.
I think he was a bit nonplussed when I told him I had never actually read anything he’d written and asked him to recommend a book or two where I could start. “Do you prefer fantasy or SF?” he asked, and we were off.
About a week later, I found the Ghosts of Columbia series at the library. It wasn’t what he had recommended, but was still a good introduction to his writing.
Longest – About 200 miles, to see Neil Gaiman
Shortest – about 10 feet, to see Terry Pratchett (I’d decided to kill some time in Waterstones coffee shop, to avoid having to drive home in rush hour. Found they were just seting up for a signing that evening so I settled down with a book & a coffee and ended up about 10th in the queue – when I left, the queue wound around 2 floors & out into the street..)
I did also end up meeting Neil Gaiman after flying fom the UK to Minneapolis, but that wasn’t the purpose of the trip, just a happy coincidence, so it doesn’t really count.
I would happily go just as far to met Diana Wynne Jones, but fortunately she doesn’t live very far from me, and I’ve been able to meet her at a local event about 20 mins drive from home.
Twenty miles on city transit to see Stephen J. Gould at UCSD way long ago.. Got to talk with him after the lecture.
More often it’s been on city transit to see people at Mysterious Galaxy
I drove about 25 miles to see Orson Scott Card when he was doing a signing at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC.
I also went to Vermont from North Carolina to see Melissa Walker (writes YA fiction). Of course she’s a friend and it was her wedding so I’m not sure it counts.
Um, what, about 4 miles or so? Does it count if you’re just going to see the person and not the “author”?
Great thread. I love all the stories people have, and its nice to hear how I’m hardly the only one who loves meeting authors – and also that I’m not the only one who usually gets too shy to say anything interesting. :P After making a complete ass out of myself in front of Peter David, I reckoned that henceforth my adopted strategy would be to quietly get an autograph and slink away before I left a bad impression.
I live close enough to NYC (55 miles or so) to NYC that making the trek in, even on a weeknight, is feasable, a fact I have seized advantage of on multiple occasions. I went to a Neil Gaiman signing, tremendously exciting for me (I enacted my “quietly slink away” policy, no way was I risking making an ass of myself in front of one of my literary idols). Last fall Brandon Sanderson & Harriet MacDougal were doing a WoT signing at B&N, and I went to that as well. He seemed extremely nice and I even managed to ask a question without looking like a moron (I hope..). Harriet seemed like a lovely woman as well.
This past January I returned to the city to see Neil Gaiman narrate ‘Peter and the Wolf.’ That was amazing. I even got to see him waltzing with Amanda Palmer for a little bit, that was very sweet (but I had to look away, I felt like I was prying).
50 miles. London to Brighton. Patrick Ness.