Sunday, September 13, 2009

NC Literary Festival at UNC-Chapel Hill

Kudos to all those who worked to present the NC Literary Festival. I went and had a blast (like it's possible to NOT have a blast at UNC). In addition to enjoying the typical kicking around the college campus, my niece got to fulfill one of her dreams in meeting RL Stine, who signed two of her books and posed with pictures.
I also hopped over and caught part of the session of author's talking about the challenges adapting books to film and plays, etc. etc. It had Allan Gurganus ("Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All") and Daniel Wallace ("Big Fish"). Both works are awesome,but I was particularly interested in Wallace, because "Big Fish" doesn't follow the "typical" story format and is told in a very interesting way, and it translated so well to screen, although initial impressions were that the book wouldn't translate to screen easily. Both are great, btw.

I especially loved what Wallace said about just going forward with your next work. He said that many folks ask him or interviews etc. present him with a lot of opportunities to relive his older work. He said he believes in just going forward. I found that kind of inspirational, and good advice, because I learned (at least personally) if I wait until the book /story / article is perfect, then it will simply never leave my house. Sometimes, like kids, you just have to kick them out after a while. I had kind of felt guilty about not revisiting stuff (especially since many asked about a sequel to "Saint Jude") and this was good confirmation for just forging ahead.

Of course, the highlight of the day was when my niece met RL Stine. (You can see pictures of myself and my niece in photos with him. What can I say? The man is a rock star.)My niece has been reading RL Stine books for several years (I think she started when she was 6). RL Stine really fueled a love of reading in many young people. A year ago, my niece said it was her dream to meet RL Stine and I promised her if he was within a 500 mile radius, I'd take her to see him. Viola.
And let me just say, for the record, that RL Stine was a super nice guy. You never know what you're going to get when you meet a famous writer, as writers can behave like, well, like WRITERS (and since I am a writer, I should know, because I place myself in that category too), and sometimes you just have to hold your breath.
I can honestly say, that RL Stine could not have been nicer, especially for the two of us who logged in a lot of hours on the road to see him. He really showed a genuine appreciation for his fans, and I think that is a wonderful quality that is sadly lacking in many celebrities today.

I have to admit that I felt he was being very genuine--that it wasn't just a nice act he was putting on, but that he generally was a cool guy.
Thank you RL Stine for helping me create a moment that my niece will remember for the rest of her life.
We also got a special treat as he read an excerpt from his new Goosebumps series "Horrorland." He gave a "world premiere" of a section he read from the book---meaning that we were the first group of kids (of all ages) in the world to hear it. That made us feel really special.
Though totally off subject, if you're at UNC-Chapel Hill (and any time is a good time to visit the old alma mater) may I suggest the restaurant Top of the Hill--esp. the crab dip and the shrimp and grits cake. Exceptionally good food.

And of course, I couldn't make the trip without stopping by the old stomping grounds of the J-School, which had consumed a large portion of my undergraduate life (and sanity). They have moved it to a bigger (and nicer) building than Howell Hall (aka Howell Hell as some of my friends called it) and it was very nice. Congrats to the J-school, which is now celebrating its 100th year.

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