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I met Emma Donoghue and then I cried

I needed to photocopy something, so I ran to the library after work. As I headed upstairs, I glanced at the Visiting Authors board as I always do, and was about to keep going when suddenly -- "Emma Donoghue. March 20. 3:30 PM."

WHAT. What was today? Surely the 19th. NO IT WAS THE 20TH. AND IT WAS 5 PM. WHY GOD. WHY DID YOU DO THIS.

Utterly dejected and pondering the meaninglessness of existence, I trudged the rest of the way upstairs. 'But perhaps she's still here!' I suddenly thought, and made my way to the security desk.

"Do you know if the Emma Donoghue event is over?"

Two extremely kind guards said maybe it was, as it was almost 5:30, but there was no harm in taking the elevator to the basement floor and checking.

So I did. And you know what? The 3:30 event was over. BUT THERE WAS ANOTHER AT 6.

And suddenly there I was. In a ridiculously not-full auditorium, watching Emma Donoghue speak.

She was charming. She was tall. She was Irish-Canadian.

She read from one of the short stories in Astray, her newest collection, and then talked for a while about her writing process, as it turned out this was part of "Story Week," put on by Columbia College (tonight they're hosting an event at a bar with Gillian Flynn, and two days ago, Sapphire did a signing, so it is a big DEAL, yo). They opened up the floor for questions and I bounded to the front and obviously asked what her favorite Dickens novel is, as she had earlier labeled herself a huge Dickens fan (the answer: essentially that it was too hard to answer, but maybe Bleak House and Great Expectations).

I'm going to say there are two types of Donoghue readers, and I say this based on basically nothing: those who like her for Room and those who read her other stuff, which is mostly historical fiction. I am of the latter group, and since Room is the book of hers beloved by book clubs the world over, I feel a bit snooty about this.

A bit snooty, but also relieved that when going up to her, I could with all honesty tell her that Kissing the Witch was my favorite of her books -- a book that apparently gets so little play that during her discussion she referred to it as something like "a collection of fairy tales I once wrote."

The factors that had to come into play for me to be at the library at that time on that day left me fairly stunned already, but I'd like to point out that Emma Donoghue is also the only author I've written this about:

She's one of the few current day authors where, if I were in a room with her, my mouth would get all dry and then I'd just kind of stare with giant, unblinking eyes and then she'd get unnerved until I shoved my book at her and whispered in a creepy way "Sign, please," at which point she'd scribble her name and then move to the next person, leaving me a shaking leaf of a human being. 
But that's just how it plays out in my head. Basically, she's really smart and really good at that whole writing thing, and I've enjoyed everything I've read so far. And I assume she's a nice person, but do we ever really know that? I've heard some people you would expect to be incredibly nice are, in fact, dicks. So maybe if I were my dry-mouthed self, she'd just stare pointedly at me, say something withering and then stalk off. But the thing is, I'd probably still love her books. So no harm, no foul, or whatever that vaguely sports-like expression is.

She was not a dick. She was awesome. And when I mentioned how I had her book Passions Between Women, 1668-1801 ready to go as soon as I finished Surpassing the Love of Men, she said "Ah, the book that got us all started." So if you have a chance to see her, do it. Her books will only be enhanced for you.

And as is always the case with author signings, I asked her to write one of her favorite words in my book.


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