Tuesday, December 8, 2009

4 minutes, 58 seconds of fame

So, Thursday night, the night before my Today Show appearance, I slept very badly. I had a bad dream that I was on my way to the TV studio when I tripped and fell into a muddy pond...and then had to go on air with half covered in mud. Also, Mo Willems was the guest before me. Yes, it was a nightmare and not a very subtle one.

But, luckily, it was just a dream (though I had to repeat that to myself a couple of times in the morning), and any part of it that wanted to come to fruition was thwarted by my trusty accompanying entourage:

my publicist (well, not my publicist but rather my publisher's) Ames, my editor (well, not just my editor but other people's too) Alvina, and my agent (also shared) Rebecca. That's me in the red dress and the jade bracelet. If there had been any muddy ponds to be had, I feel confident they would have safely steered me away.

And if I had gotten muddy, the hair and make-up people would've taken care of it:

And when I met the kids from the book club, they were so sweet and enthusiastic that my anxiety about not being a super-famous author (like Mo) disappeared. They peppered me with questions that, under strict rules by the show, I did not answer. Apparently, if I answer the questions in the green room, the kids don't ask the good ones on TV (the kids' questions are not pre-screened, no one knows what they are going to ask). But I was allowed to sign the books.

and then we all got the call to the set...
and we were LIVE!!!
It went by so quickly! According to the youtube clip, it was exactly 4 minutes and 58 seconds. I was a bit surprised at some of the questions (they were not the ones they were asking in the green room) and I spent a good portion of my time thinking that I had to stop my legs from jiggling. However, in those few moments that my mind was calm, I marveled at the group.

The truth is, I think I have always put limitations on the appeal of my books. I've always thought my books were "Asian-niched" or "for girls" but for the first time, I realized how close-minded I've been about the audience that I write for. As we waited on set, the kids' excitement and enjoyment of my book was honest and real. "This book should be made into a movie," one boy said. "This book and that other blue cover book were the best ones we've read!" another said, the others echoing their approval. And then live, during the show, when one boy HAD to say, "By the way, I liked your book," before asking his question something clicked.

None of these kids were obviously Asian (I think one might have been a mix) and the boys were just as, if not more, enthusiastic than the girls. They did not think of my book as a Chinese book or a girl book. Those things didn't matter or even occur to them. This was just a book they enjoyed. It was perhaps the most truly multicultural moment I have ever had in my writing path so far-- a moment where the race and gender melted away, a moment that was so multicultural that the label faded away.

So, even if I never get my remaining 2 seconds of fame, I will always cherish the quality of my 4 minutes and 58 seconds.

Thanks, Book Club Kids!