For the past few weeks, there has been only one thing on our minds. Three tiny little initials, that encompassed the pinnacle (thus far) of our Book Smuggling careers:
In the two years that we have been running The Book Smugglers, we had yet to attend a United States-side formal book event in the Smuggler capacity. Sure, we’d been to other book festivals (such as the LA Times Festival of Books), but we’d been to those events basically as mere spectators/book lovers. This year, we decided to take the plunge (literally – just look at our poor bank statements!), and made the trek out to New York City for the single biggest publishing event of the year.
And wouldn’t you know it? BookExpo America was everything we had dreamed of, and then some. We knew it would be BIG (and believe us, Javits is a huge, cavernous – and fittingly, frigidly air conditioned – building), and we knew that every major publisher under the sun would be there – but never in our wildest dreams did we imagine that we’d be making off with some of the awesome galleys/ARCs/final copies of books that we received. We never thought that we’d actually get to spend time chatting/geeking/fangirling-out with some of the coolest authors (Diana Peterfreund!) and publisher contacts EVER.
We do have to admit that after the first day at BEA (approximately 50 pounds of books in tow) we were a bit worried about the logistics of the thing. How on earth would we get all of these books home, especially given stringent airline policies regarding overweight bags? We decided that we needed to exercise restraint for Day 2, making a solemn vow NOT to repeat the madness of Day 1…but as you can see, “restraint” isn’t exactly one of our strong suits:
Hence, the title of this piece. As the Borg would say, Resistance Is Futile, so we abandoned our fears and in true Doctor Strangelove style, embraced the full, book-greed-fueled madness that is BEA.
Of course, now looking at how our TBR piles have grown exponentially over the course of a single week, we may be in over our heads…but, hold, we are getting ahead of ourselves.
Allow us to present our Day-by-Day report of the coolest freakin’ book event of 2010.
Actually, we are still getting ahead of ourselves, because our BEA fun began even before we set foot in the Javits Center. Let’s try this again.
Day One Day Zero: Tor, Jackie Kessler & DC Comics
Thea: By some harmonious universal resonance, Ana and I had somehow managed to arrange our arrivals in JFK at the SAME TIME – both of us were about 45 minutes early – and after lugging my already massive luggage to Ana’s terminal and meeting up (for only the second time!), we got ourselves into a taxi and headed out to our Midtown hotel. If our smooth, serendipitously early flight arrivals weren’t enough of a good omen for the days to come at BEA, our cab driver certainly was. As you may or may not know, Ana and I are enormous LOST Geeks – I’m talking hours on forums and message boards, fifty-plus page long theories, screencap trailer-freezing, spoiler-whoring LOST Geeks – and we spent the cab ride talking about the series finale (rest in peace, dear losties). And then, Awesome Cab Driver (forthwith “ACD”) joins in the conversation. Not only was he a fellow LOST watcher, but a full-on LOST geek (he knew his episode titles, mythology minutiae, etc). When we finally finished arguing the merits and fallbacks of the finale and got around to the reason we were in New York, explaining that we are genre fiction book reviewers, ACD whips out his worn copy of Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn. Coolest. Cabbie. EVER.
After our experience with ACD, we made our way to the historic Flatiron Building to meet up with the good folks at Tor Books– Dot Linn, Cassie Ammerman, Justin Golenbock, and Amber Hopkins. We got the grand tour of the floor, meeting editors (including the editor of the highly anticipated Passion Play), the awesome art department, the new head of Tor.com (for which we are also bloggers), and the pièce de résistance – we got to meet and chat with Tom Doherty himself, Founder of Tor (President and Publisher of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, publishing under the Tor, Forge, Orb, Starscape, and Tor Teen imprints).
Afterwards, we got to grab a drink with a few of the publicists, and got to chatting about upcoming Tor/Forge titles, cover art, speculative fiction fandom, more LOST (of course), and other assorted topics of geeky goodness. Justin Golenbock got us even more excited for the release of Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings – apparently, it is the best thing Sanderson has ever written. We cannot wait. It was wonderful meeting these rad people face-to-face, and even cooler to learn that they are just as passionate about their books as we are about reading them.
Following our meeting with Tor, we met up with the lovely, exuberant Jackie Kessler, author of dark paranormal/Urban Fantasy series Hell on Earth, the superhero/villain series The Icarus Project co-authored with Caitlin Kitteredge, and highly anticipated Young Adult novel Hunger (the first book in the new Riders series). With Jackie in tow, we made our way to the Foundation Room to hobnob with folks at the DC Entertainment/Image Comics BEA Party (in conjunction with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund).
Needless to say, it was a night full of pure, unfiltered, unadulterated AWESOME.
**Note: I still say it was full of awesome, even after Jackie Kessler made us walk the long walk back to where she thought our hotel was – wrong address – and after a certain “earring incident” – in which my flats were run through by a rogue fishhook earring. We blame Jackie Kessler for it all.**
After a long night, Ana and I made our way back to our hotel room to rest up for the *official* start to our trip – BEA, Day 1. Well, actually, that’s not all – in addition to all the books we would pick up at BEA, Ana and I had the “genius” idea to bring with us a haul of books that we had been meaning to send to each other, i.e. we went into BEA ALREADY weighed down by thirty or so books per person. What seemed like a good, fast, cheap way to get our books to each other in person turned out to be one of the worst ideas we have ever had. Seriously. These were the books we had for each other, before even setting foot in the Javits Center:
DAY ONE: The Myth of the BEA Shuttle, Press Passes, The Madness (and Block of Doom)
Thea: We began Wednesday a little tired after our marathon walking session from the night before (damn you, Jackie Kessler!), but otherwise well-rested and ready to see what this BEA thing was all about. We awoke early (to an alarm that seriously sounded like the Swan hatch’s 108 minute warning alarm from LOST – which caused me to awake in a cold sweat every morning), got our coffee and tried to figure out where the hell the shuttle bus to Javits was supposed to pick us up. After waiting an hour for the damn shuttle, we shared a cab with an author we met whilst waiting for the imaginary shuttle bus, got to Javits, and began the arduous task of registering/checking in. And then…it was all officially underway. With dear iPhone, itemized calendar and signing map in hand, we made our way around the floor – meeting up with some truly cool folks along the way (Kristen of Fantasy Cafe, Angie of Angieville, and Kenda of Lurve ala Mode).
And here’s exactly what we did:
– 9:30 AM: Met with Alice Morley of Little, Brown (and picked up a heap of books in the process, including but not limited to: Room, I am J, Bloodthirsty & The Candymakers)
– 10:30 AM: Felix Gilman signing of The Half-Made World, after meeting up with Kristen of Fantasy Cafe
– 10:35 AM: Dystopian Fiction Author Panel, with Ally Condie, MATCHED (Dutton); Adam Dunn, RIVERS OF GOLD (Bloomsbury); Lesley Hague, NOMANSLAND (Macmillan); Sigrid Nunez, SALVATION CITY (Riverhead) – this was actually a fascinating panel, in which interesting questions were posed. What makes a dystopia? Must a dystopian novel have a glimmer of hope in order to work (Ms. Condie, Hague and Nunez said yes, while Mr. Dunn thought otherwise). Interesting stuff, truly.
– 11:30 AM: Cherie Priest signing of Dreadnought – Cherie’s hair was awesome in true Steampunk style, and the ARC cover of Dreadnought is wicked cool in its Calamity Jane sort of feel. Bonus, Cherie’s publicist was the lovely Amber, whom we had met the night before!
– 12:00 PM: We attempted to get in line at the Harlequin Booth for YA Hour with Gena Showalter, Rachel Vincent and Maria Snyder…but were too late, and the line too long. Sadly, I missed out on meeting Maria and getting a copy of Inside Out (Dammit! *shakes fist dramatically*)
– 1:30 PM – 5:00PM, aka, THE BLOCK OF DOOM #1 After a brief (overpriced!) lunch of coffee and crisps and sitdown break, we made our way to two signings. While Ana picked up Maryrose Wood’s signing of The Poison Diaries and The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, I greedily scooped up Charlie Higson’s YA post-apocalyptic zombie novel, The Enemy (which I have started and am already loving)
– 2:30 PM: Waited in line for about an hour to meet Lauren Oliver and scooped up a copy of Delirium AND Before I Fall (sweeeeet!), meanwhile Ana got in the formidable line for…
– 3:00 PM: Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier, signing coveted ARCs for their anthology Zombies versus Unicorns. Naturally, Ana was team Unicorn (Holly Black) while I was firmly Team Zombie (Justine Larbalestier). To make this signing EVEN COOLER, Scott freakin’ Westerfeld was there (Ana had a moment and cried out, “Barking Spiders!” to which Scott Westerfeld laughed and said, “Great accent!”), and to the right of this signing line? None other than the beautiful, wicked-smart, killer unicorn novelist Diana Peterfreund. I believe my exact words at this gathering of authors was something along the lines of “OHMIGOD AWESOMENESS-HEAD-EXPLOSION!”
– 4:00 PM: We ran over to get in line for Diana Peterfreund’s signing of Ascendant, book 2 in her superb Killer Unicorn series. There was squee-ing.
Keep in mind, this list is just for the author signings and doesn’t cover the books that we picked up along the way at various publisher booths. After the Diana signing and doing a quick once over of the booths, we made our way – exhausted, weighed down by about 50 pounds of books apiece – back to the hotel to grab a beer (one of the best beers I have ever had, if I may say), a quick bite to eat, and then it was get ready for the Harper Collins Celebration of Book Bloggers event at the Algonquin Hotel.
To get to the venue, Ana and I decided that instead of walking, we’d take one of those rickshaw guys – I mean, why not? It had to be cheaper than a taxi, and even though it was a sweltering 90 degrees out, it was only a few blocks away. So, we climbed on this rickety bike with this sweaty dude at the helm and had something of a Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride to the historic Algonquin Hotel. It was awesome…except when it came time to pay, the sweaty bike dude informed us that it would cost us $15. PER PERSON.
Our wallets lighter, and now wise to the ways of those wiley bike taxis, Ana and I made our way up to the event and had an awesome time with fellow bloggers:
Free wine, good people, fun times all around. Afterwards, we decided we weren’t quite tired enough to go back to the hotel, so we decided to grab a whiskey at the bar downstairs (it’s the Algonquin! We had to have a whiskey in true writerly fashion!)…and ended up making friends with Christian (the Romanian bartender), and fellow blogger Carey Anderson of The Tome Traveller’s Weblog, and her husband.
And, that brings Day 1 (and Day 0) to a close. Phew. Report of Day 2 will be up, from Ana’s perspective, shortly.