I live in one of those cities where the mayor and whoever is on the official city board like to say we’re a growing community and up-and-coming when it’s evident to see that our glory days have long been gone. We were a community who used to have two bookstores and two geniuses somewhere decided to minimize their stores and closed each bookstore down within a month of each other.
Chances of me going to an author event in my city: nearly zero percent.
And yet everything seemed to align the day my father finally bought a newspaper in what seems like ages. I glanced through the events and lo and behold: Sara Gruen was going to be in town. I think I nearly fainted. The chances that a New York Times bestselling author would even be at any of our bookstores if we still had any was nearly zero percent. The authors doing signings at our bookstores were local authors or authors who were published by small publishers. Someone of Sara Gruen’s magnitude just doesn’t appear at our city. And yet the paper said she was going to be at the college here in town.
There were some discrepancies about which building on campus was going to have the event and whether or not it truly was open to the public, but the stars aligned and everything was settled at the last minute. Sara Gruen was indeed at the college and she indeed was going to do signings, but I had to sit through a lecture about an English professor that they were honoring who had died back in 1993. Surprisingly, the professor had a bit of a circus background, which tied nicely into Water for Elephants, and then somehow in the middle of listening to the professor’s life and a Q&A session that involved the name Robert Pattinson a few times, Sara Gruen was given an honorary doctorate of literature.
Sara Gruen has to be one of the most humblest authors on the face of this planet. That and she’s adorable. Someone asked if she had a cameo in the Water for Elephants movie and she said (I’m paraphrasing) “There’s a scene in the movie where Rosie is eating all of these cabbages and watermelons and corn. Robert Pattinson comes running into the scene to get Rosie out and bumps into a disgruntled woman. That woman is me.” The way she said it was hilarious. I wish I had brought my recorder, but alas, I forgot it at home.
She talked about how she hates using outlines, and my dad happily whispered to me that she must be a pantser. He likes to use writerly lingo when he can as he learns them and he seems quite pleased with himself. It’s utterly cute and funny. Seriously, if someone leaves a comment on this post and agrees with not using outlines, that’ll just give him another excuse to use the word pantser.
The night wrapped up with the book signing and I think there were close to 100+ people in line. People observed that she was a leftie and had small feet. As with every book signing, I ended up buying one of her other books and got that signed along with my copy of Water for Elephants. She even signed my little Rosie which got a few ‘awws’ from the crowd.