It started like this:
My friend sent me a photo on whatsapp, of a sign advertising Jodi Picoult’s booksigning.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
And that, my friends, is the story of how I met Jodi Picoult.