National Book Festival

Published September 1, 2014 by K. Leigh

Hello again! It’s been a while. The summer has been pretty hectic because I have one last semester left and knowing such, if I wasn’t at work, then I was working on my social life. I won’t have one starting this week because I work Tues, Thurs, Fri, (and weekends if there’s hours) and I will be attending classes Mon and Weds. So I apologize for the lack of blogging (not like I am very exciting on here anyway).

This weekend I attended the National Book Festival in Washington D.C. The main reason? It was on the upcoming events for Lisa See‘s book signing tour. Since she is one of my favorite authors I was not going to miss a chance to finally meet her and have her sign another book (I ordered a pre-signed copy of “China Dolls” a few months back).

My best friend, Jen, was the one who got me into Lisa See’s books and I’ve been addicted ever since. I haven’t read them all, yet, but I am working on that. However, seeing as we were roughly two and a half hours away from Washington D.C., we decided to take a journey to the Festival to meet Ms. See as well as attend a day dedicated to books and authors.

We planned our day accordingly, looking up all the panels and events we wanted to attend. We decided that we were going to walk around Chinatown first because we had some time to kill before the first panel we were going to go to. Chinatown is about a block away from the convention center where the festival was held. I had tweeted that we were heading there then to Lisa See’s panel and tagged her in it. She responded! She had tweeted back that she also was going to be in Chinatown and that if I saw her I should come say “hi.” I asked her when and she had told me when she was meeting with a camera crew for VOA, which was the same time we were going to be there! Exciting stuff!

Jen and I were around the Friendship Arch when I saw Ms. See. We went up to her to say “hello” and she was very pleasant! She suggested we should take a picture with her and in front of the Friendship Arch at that. We did. She introduced us to the camera crew and we went on our way, leaving her to her tour and interview.

Jen, my family, and I had lunch at a quaint Chinese restaurant and then headed to the convention. We went directly for the book sales. When we got to the hall, we were quite disappointed. There was a very big section for kids activities taking up about half of the room. Then there was a narrow walk way which could not fit the large crowd walking through. The book sale section was ridiculously small and there was a bunch of people crowded around the few tiny tables housing the small collection of books. Jen and I made a decision as we entered just to leave. At the exit of the book sale section we came upon the autograph lines. We circled around them and headed back out of that area, again shoving our way past people or bumping into the ones who weren’t paying attention. It was a bit rough.

We went to our first Lisa See panel. It was funny, interesting, and inspiring. She talked a lot about her family history, China Dolls, and the research she did for the book. It was really something. After the panel we headed into the line to have her sign our books. I brought “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” and Jen brought “Dreams of Joy.” We met a few nice people in line and started up a conversation while waiting. I failed to rent out my parents, but it was all in good fun.

When we got up to the book signing, Lisa See looked up and had remembered us from earlier. She asked us how our lunch was and we asked her how her day went in Chinatown. We exchanged a few more pleasantries and overall it was nice that she took interest in us although we were nobodies. It really showed us that she takes pride in knowing the people who read her books and cares about the relationship she has with them.

We went to dinner at an Irish Pub and it was fantastic! It was called Fado’s and they are a chain. So if you can, look to see if they’re near you. I would recommend Crabbie’s Ginger Beer (tastes like the soda “Ginger Ale”) and the dessert Chocolate Brownie with Guinness Ice Cream. Wink.

We headed back to the convention after the nice and filling meal and headed to the last panel of the night: Great Books to Great Movies featuring the authors E.L. Doctorow (“Ragtime,” amongst others), Alice Mcdermott (“That Night”), Lisa See (“Snow Flower and the Secret Fan”), and Paul Auster (“Smoke,” amongst others). It turns out they all hated the movies except for Paul Auster (who worked very closely with the director with his movie).

There was a lot said that was really interesting, but the moderation of the panel wasn’t what it should have been. They showed clips from each movie, asked the author about the experience, and their thoughts on the product. Then when the moderator moved on, Auster hogged a lot of the time as well as Doctorow. Auster had a lot of experience with movies and Doctorow had a lot of insight, which is all well and good, but more questions were asked based off on what they had brought to the conversation leaving out the two female authors. Lisa See actually spoke up when a question was asked and brought it out of the male dominated discussion and what she and Ms. Mcdermott brought to the table was just as interesting as what the two seasoned males brought. If the moderator balanced out the questions and the conversations between all four authors, I think it would have been really well rounded.

Overall, I thought the convention was rough around the edges, not big enough to house the many people who attended it, and could have been run smoother. However, I enjoyed myself, met an amazing author whom I look up to, and got everything done that I wanted to do. I would say it was extremely successful although a little disappointing.

Have you ever met someone you idolized? Was it a good experience or a disappointing one? What are some things you took from that? I’d love to hear what you have to say!

 

-K.

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