Usually with any conference or event I attend, there’s always one memory or item I remember best, something that sort of encapsulates the entire event. Sometimes, it’s not a good thing (Pittsburgh’s RT, while hosted by my home town, was a hot mess of groping and asthma attacks for many) and sometimes it’s something outside the script, like at RT in Orlando, when Beth Ciotta turned to Heather Graham and remarked that she couldn’t believe Heather’s daughter, who had just danced onstage, was no longer 3 years old. That moment reminded me that although many people disagree about RT and the events and tone of some of those events, every year that conference is populated by a family of (mostly) women drawn together by their love of books and, perhaps, corsetry. Seriously, not everyone, as I was reminded by KristieJ, has someone they can talk about romance with frankly and honestly and with joy and snark.
This year the moment of RT that I’m going to remember is from the book fair. Yes, I know, you were expecting me to say that the Mr. Romance contestant rubbing Poland Spring water into his manscaping would be the moment that burned my memory. Nope, sorry. (However, more on Mssrs. Romance over at Dear Author. And I do mean more.
I am sad to report that book fairs, especially one as big as that one, acquire a sort of musty funky smell at the end. There were a LOT of people in that room. But you know who populated that event?
A mother loving posse load of young women. I mean that literally. I saw so many teenaged women with their mothers shopping for books en masse. Customized t-shirts for authors. Gifts. Excited comments over the LIST of author NAMES they were DYING to meet. I interviewed one young girl who was nearly 12 who was so excited to meet Richelle Mead and Heather Brewer she could barely speak when she was at Brewer’s table getting a signature.
When I asked who else they were going to meet, her mom said, “She can meet any author she wants and get whatever books she wants. This is her day.”
I love that. I freaking love that: young women all giddy and shivering with glee at… meeting authors and buying books. There’s a lot of snide comments and “Oh God Twilight” dismissal (and I’m totally guilty of that, too, at times) about the powerhouse that is YA, but seeing literal teams of women going hours and hours out of their way (in some cases dealing with Homeland Security to cross from Canada into the US, for which on behalf of the US I apologize) to meet authors, buy books, and tell these writers how much their books rock. Mothers bringing their daughters to a giant book signing for a shopping/signing spree as a gift. Hell, moms driving 4 hours to meet one author along with their daughters and friends. Once again, I run into the family that comes together at RT.
Seriously. I love that. It’s the next generation of women readers, and part of the driving force behind the paranormal explosion – and even though I myself am exhausted of the paranormal milieu, reader enthusiasm never fails to make me inordinately happy. That will be the moment I remember most about RT 2010. What about you?