Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Meeting a Hero

As I mentioned before, I had the awesome opportunity to attend LTUE last month. It was the experience of a lifetime, and for more than one reason.

Last year, when my friend mentioned the symposium, I was excited to go, though I wasn’t sure what to expect. Then, Shannon Hale posted on her blog she’d been asked to be one of the keynote speakers.

I am a huge Shannon Hale fan.

When I was in junior high, I randomly found her book, Goose Girl, at the library. I’m one of those nerds who read fairy tales from all cultures along with Nancy Drew while in elementary school. I immediately recognized the name of the fairy tale, and I picked it up, intrigued. I hadn’t really read very many fairy tale retellings, and I believe at that time, they were just beginning to become popular.
I took it home and devoured the book. It quickly became an all-time favorite. While reading it, I realized how much fun it would be to write a story of my own, a retelling of one of my favorite stories.

It took me a few years before I found the perfect story, but that novel, inspired by Shannon Hale’s Goose Girl, was the first novel I ever wrote. It was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and it holds a very special spot in my heart, because it’s what started me on this whole journey.

When I finally went to LTUE, I was so excited to meet Shannon Hale. She gave a Keynote speech that blew me away. My friends and I couldn’t stop talking about it, and I’ve told my family, friends and coworkers about it. She’s an inspiration in more ways than one, and I was nervous about meeting her.

I’m sure it’s stressful, being under the spotlight like that, having everyone recognize you wherever you are for an entire weekend. But she was pleasant, and took the time to interact with her fans and fellow writers.

One of the things I heard while at LTUE was ‘Pay it forward.’ You never know when something you do for someone else will affect the series of events following. I’m so grateful I have the example of such gracious writers, who are willing to help cultivate the love of writing in young, budding authors.

I just wish I’d written down a list of things to ask her when I finally had the chance. My mind kind of went blank in the moment.