Took the subway to Penn Station, and then the train to DC, and then the Metro to Rockville. My uncle yelled hello at me from the roof of his apartment building. The woman at the front desk liked my outfit. I was wearing a thrift store dress I had gotten in LA and also a cheap chambray blazer from Target. I dress bargain, but I dress like a champ. My uncle made us crab cakes for lunch, and also he roasted this candied ginger nuts concoction and handed me a full Tupperware container for the weekend. Then they drove me to Gaithersburg.
I took a nap in the hotel room, and then later Susannah came to the room, hungry and tired from her drive from New Jersey. I handed her the Tupperware container. It was a game-changer for her. Like I think those nuts might have actually saved her life. We should all roast more nuts as a nation.
Later there was an opening night party for the book festival and I met lots of really lovely people, other writers as well as the nice people from Gaithersburg who put on the event. It is quite infectious when you meet people who are excited about books. Everyone smiles at you. It makes the trip worth it.
Also I met Ben Percy for the first time. I liked him a lot. He’s solid. We have the same editor and publicist. We share a lot of love for these people, and thus it was easy for us to like each other. I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to work with people I like. I work really hard in my life just so that I only ever have to talk to people I like.
At the festival the next day Jennifer Close interviewed me in front of an audience. She was extremely generous to me with her questions. About half the people had read the book, and the other half were just curious I suppose. Everyone was super enthusiastic and engaged. They smiled at me, too. Thank god they smiled at me. You never know, you can only hope.
Jennifer asked me lots of literary questions but also asked if I read internet comments about my writing. I told the story about when I stopped reading them entirely, which was when I saw a comment on Goodreads about one of my books that said simply, “Meh.” You put a few years of your life into something and someone says that? Forget it, you’ll never win. So I stopped after that. Congrats, author of Meh. You changed my life forever.
Near the end I started rambling about how my older books were way dirtier and that there’s only a handjob scene in The Midds. I am a child and cannot resist saying the word “handjob” during public appearances. My uncle had a shit-eating grin on his face the whole time in the front row. I swear I do half these public appearances just to have the chance to crack up my family members.
Afterward I signed a copy of my book for my uncle. He is constantly buying copies of my books and having me sign them. “Thanks for the crabcakes,” I wrote. He and my aunt went off to Susannah’s line to have her sign a copy of her book, Brain on Fire. They came back later, grinning. Susannah had written, “Thanks for the nuts.”