with coordinating menus!
At the luncheon, the gracious Megan Tingley (publisher of LB) gave a warm speech to introduce my editor Alvina Ling, describing, amongst other things, how Alvina's passion convinced them to publish Where the Mountain Meets the Moon in full color.
Alvina, then gave a moving speech to introduce me--talking about our long and wonderful friendship.
Then it was MY turn.
This was quite difficult for me, because I really wanted to express my extreme gratitude (and not be too long). I wrote everything down because I was so nervous. This is what I said:
Even though I’ve gotten used to speaking at schools, things like this make me intensely nervous. They told me it only had to be a few words, but I feel that there are no amount of words that I could say to express my profound gratitude.
First, I want to thank all the great people at LB—Alvina my dear friend & editor, Connie, Victoria, Zoe, Ames, Andrew, Megan--everyone. Also, I want to thank my brand-new husband of 4 months, Alex, for his moral support and also because Victoria warned me that if I didn't an Academy Award Actress-like curse might befall me.
But today, of course, most of my thanks is for you, the Newbery committee for the incredible honor you have given me.
As many of you already know, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is my personal tribute to my late husband Robert. While the fantasy genre interested me, I only began to write it in earnest when he asked me to, so, while he was going through chemotherapy, I could read it to him and he could imagine himself elsewhere.
At the beginning of Robert’s illness, there were many times I thought we cursed with ill-fortune and I would wonder why our fate was so poor. But as he began to lose his fight for life, I realized how lucky and how truly fortunate I really was. And when Robert’s battle ended, his final gift to me was the soul of the book.
In Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Minli is searching for the secret of happinesss. In the end, she realizes that happiness is not a prize that one wins. Happiness is a gift to be thankful for. I will never believe that I won the Newbery Honor. But I will always be thankful to all of you for gift of it.
I had to work really hard not to tear up while saying it.
But luckily, by then, it was time to eat!
Then I signed some books-- first editions that Victoria had stored in some secret location!
It was a wonderful and emotional afternoon, but the whole time I felt like a fine lady because of my grandmother's green dress: