General note from the future (July 4, 2020): it came out back in 2018 that James Dashner has sexually harassed a number of women in the industry. With that in mind, I’ve done my best to remove the part about his book signing from this post, but it was impossible to remove him completely, so warning that there are references to him throughout.
Before we begin, you should know that the mug I’m currently drinking my hot apple cider out of has Grumpy Cat on it, courtesy my CP Kira. And it makes me unreasonably happy.
Now, onto what we’re actually talking about: The Week of Book Signings! This past week I had the opportunity to attend three different book signings, which was kind of crazy considering how I usually only go to a couple book signings a year. They were for Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (SHILOH),
James Dashner (THE MAZE RUNNER), and Veronica Roth (DIVERGENT). I was super excited for all three of them, and it was fun to meet them in that order, because that was also the order in which I originally read the books. SHILOH was one of my favorites back when I was about eight, I read THE MAZE RUNNER junior year of high school, and I’ve been obsessed with DIVERGENT since senior year.
I went to Phyllis Reynolds Naylor‘s signing with Rebecca Cao–a fellow Wolverine writer–and her boyfriend. Phyllis is on tour to advertise the last book in her Alice series right now, and while I’ve never read those books, it was neat to see how passionate a lot of the people at the signing were, along with the broad range of ages who showed up, from little kids to college students to adults. When it was my turn to meet her, I told her how SHILOH was one of my favorite books growing up and I have a beagle now. She’s an absolute sweetheart, full of the kind of spunk that makes a person glow. I’m definitely going to have to check out her Alice series.
This section, about meeting James Dashner, has been redacted.
Last but MOST CERTAINLY not least, I MET VERONICA ROTH!!! I went to the signing with my vlogging partner Hannah, Emily again, and my mom (who was awesome enough to drive us all to Chicago). You can watch a video about it on Hannah and Julia’s Vlog.
We drove out Friday evening, and then got into line to wait for the signing around 11:00 AM central time on Saturday, Starbucks in hand. The event was by far the biggest book signing I’ve ever been to–it sold out over a month ago, with a thousand VRoth fans getting to meet her and have books signed–and a good number of them were already ahead of us in line, even though the event itself didn’t begin until 2:00.
Our seats in the theater for the interview portion of the event depended on where we were waiting in line, while our numbers for the book signing itself were predetermined by when we purchased our tickets–which meant that while my mom and I had ticket numbers 220 and 221, Hannah’s ticket number was 890.
We managed to snag seats in the fifth row, center section of the theater, which meant that our view was this:
Which, you know, is a pretty good view.
Before Veronica and the interviewer–Margot Wood of Epic Reads Tea Time fame–came on, the theater kept us busy listening to an organist who had risen on a little stage from the orchestra pit to play songs from the Beatles, and Phantom of the Opera, and more. It was brilliant.
Then Margot and Veronica DID come on, and we all basically just went insane, because OMG VERONICA ROTH.
The interview lasted about an hour–you can watch it here. At the end, Veronica surprised us by bringing her brother Karl Vincent Roth on stage to perform a song with her that he’d written for Tris–listen to it here (it’s called “The Mark”). Veronica sang backup vocals for him in the live performance.
Afterward, a massive screen dropped down over the stage, and Veronica had us watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (both Hannah and my favorite HP) while we waited for our group to be called to go get our books signed (they had us leave the theater for the signing area, in the lobby, in groups of fifty). The movie finished before Hannah’s group was even called, but that was fine because she finished reading during the climax.
Also while waiting, we had the opportunity to meet Margot Wood. I professed my love of Tea Time to her, and she told me that my hair “is so soft!” (Makes sense, since my name means “youthful, or downy,” after all.)
Some shots of Hannah, Emily, and me freaking out with our copies of ALLEGIANT:
When it was my turn to meet Veronica Roth, I managed to hold down my squeeing enough to tell her she was my hero, and she sort of just looked down with a sheepish, disbelieving but grateful smile and said thanks–exactly the kind of response I’d expect from someone as awesome as Veronica. I still can’t believe how nice and down-to-earth she is; she tried to make the signing special and unique for every single one of the thousand people she met on Saturday. It was amazing.
After the signing ended–a good four+ hours after it began–we headed into downtown Chicago to do all the touristy things, like drive down Lake Shore Drive, visit Millennium Park and Michigan Avenue, and watch the Navy Pier fireworks.
I’ve never been to Millennium Park at night, especially towards the end of October, so it was cool seeing how empty it was–it had a bit of a real life dystopian-fiction feel to it.
My favorite part was seeing Crown Fountain (aka the “face fountains”) completely empty of people with the water turned off. The faces were still all lit up, but everything else I associate with Crown Fountain was gone–there was no sunlight reflecting off the tiles, no shrieking children splashing through puddles. The only sounds came from the street and our voices echoed between the two fountains.
Because it was the Saturday before Halloween, Navy Pier put on a special out-of-season fireworks show, which we watched from Lake Shore Drive. Afterward, we made our way to the pier itself, where we wandered and then got a very late dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. At that point, it was around 11:00 PM central time (so midnight our time) and the only things we’d had to eat that day were Starbucks drinks twelve hours before, and then popcorn during the movie.
Understandably, we were all pretty loopy by then.
Afterward, we all crashed the instant we turned the lights out. Sunday, we got brunch at my favorite Chicago suburb crepe place, and then headed for home. On the way, we stopped at a beach, which was cold but gorgeous.
A bunch of giant, flat boulders led out into a point, I think used for weather monitoring.
Emily and I climbed all the way out.
Overall, it was a fantastic weekend. Veronica Roth is an amazing individual, and I fall more in love with Chicago every time I visit.
Now, special treat: In honor of meeting my writing idol (and you reading through this entire, monstrously long post), I’m giving away ONE SIGNED COPY OF ALLEGIANT to a lucky reader!
All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter giveaway linked below. I’ve set up lots of different entry options, so hopefully at least one will work for you! The giveaway will run through November 7th at midnight, eastern time.
Sound good? I can’t wait to send you the book!
PS. The newest/last Hunger Games: Catching Fire trailer is incredible. The end of it is so powerful–I can’t even imagine what the movie will be like.