I MET JODI PICOULT

It started like this:

My friend sent me a photo on whatsapp, of a sign advertising Jodi Picoult’s booksigning.

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What? One of my favourite authors who isn’t dead would be in ENGLAND? In my HOMETOWN? At my LOCAL BOOKSTORE?

WHEREEEEE, I messaged back in a frenzy.

Waterstones, she replied patiently, kindly ignoring the fact that all the necessary information was in the photo she’d sent me.

WHICH WATERSTONES?!?!??! If I could have screamed at her, you bet I would have.

After a few minutes of keysmashing my phone, I managed to gather the following data:

  • Jodi Picoult would be breathing THE SAME AIR AS ME in a matter of weeks
  • She would be at my local Waterstones
  • on the 10th of November
  • at 1pm
  • I had to be there.

The day of the signing:

I arrived at 12, lurking around the bookstore like a creep with a book fetish. Too early.

I spent ten minutes in Superdrug buying mints.

Still too early.

Why was I so nervous? It’s not as if she would interrogate me on how many of her books I’d read (twelve out of seventeen, in case you were wondering). I paced around before it dawned that I should probably get inside to wait in line with everybody else.

There were already about twenty-something people already; a mixture of ages and backgrounds. I found myself sandwiched between a couple of older ladies and a young mother with her pram, and copy of Jodi Picoults’ new book clutched between my arms.

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Backlit like an angel.

Just as I was rehearsing what to say (shut up, I was nervous, okay?), I heard a flurry of excited murmurs. I looked up and spotted an iconic head of curls making its way to the front of the queue. It was her!

I think I made some kind of strangled squeaking noise, but for the sake of my remaining dignity, I’ll deny it.

Finally, the queue shortened and before I knew it, I was next.

“Hi!” Jodi said. (Can I call her that? Jodi? Like we’re best buds? Ms Picoult sounds too formal…)

“asdfghjkl;?!?!” was my scintillating reply.

Her assistant stepped forward. “Do you want me to take a photo for you?”

“……!!!!!!!” I eventually managed to mumble out a thank you, and bent awkwardly to pose for the picture.

PHOTOGRAPHIC PROOF THAT THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED. (If I look awkward, it's because I was.)
PHOTOGRAPHIC PROOF THAT THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED. (If I look awkward, it’s because I was.)

“I really enjoyed your novels,” I confessed. Twelve out of seventeen, to be exact, but it didn’t seem necessary to add this detail out loud. At last! A coherent sentence!

“Thank you,” she smiled, signing my copy with THE SAME HAND that had written the same countless tales I’d read before.

“Actually, I want to be a writer someday,” I continued.

“Good luck! I look forward to reading your work soon,” she replied. There’s probably thousands of people who have said the exact same thing to her before, and received a similar response, but I genuinely don’t care. Hearing such encouraging words from someone I honestly respect and admire meant the world to me.

004
It says ‘Jia, enjoy’, not ‘Jiz everything’. Just to be clear.

Eventually, a staff member politely, but pointedly, cleared her throat. I realised I was still standing and gaping so I managed to say thank you again and bid my farewell. I left the bookstore with my signed copy hugged to my chest, my heart still hammering, but with the biggest smile plastered to my face.

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And that, my friends, is the story of how I met Jodi Picoult.

Best wishes,

Jia

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