Several months ago I promised Louisa my Diane Duane story but I never got around to writing it down. Better late than never right? Behind a read more because it’s a little long.
So flashback to the fall of 2002. I was a freshman in high school. For those of you used to other terms just think that I was 14. The first anniversary of 9/11 had just happened, and living in Washington DC people were understandably a mix of hopeful, somber, and jittery. Then came the sniper.
For those of you who haven’t heard of the story what came to be called the Beltway sniper attacks were a series of shootings in the DC area. People young and old (though mostly older) were shot as they went about their day. They were attacked pumping gas, walking to or from work, or just out and about. As you might imagine a shooter loose in the DC area caused an immediate reaction. Volunteers (dubbed ‘Angels’) lined up to pump people’s gas in case the sniper chose to attack at that moment. Schools immediately cancelled outdoor activities (including sports) and formed cordons to shuttle kids into or between school buildings as quickly as possible. At my school this took the form of pushing all soccer practices into the gym (oddly enough this happened to be the only year we won the league championship).
Now where this comes into play regarding my meeting Diane Duane is this. Groups of schoolchildren were scheduled to go to a talk and book signing event at a local independent bookstore (Politics and Prose, great place). Because parents and school officials were so frightened at the prospect of kids getting shot in the brief space between the bus door and the door of the bookstore all of them decided it would be better not to go. So instead of a crowd of kids (and some adults) packed in rows in the bookstore it ended up being about seven of us in a circle of armchairs. One of whom was my mother and was dragged along as my transportation.
Instead of a formal event where a passage would be read, maybe some questions would be answered, and then a book signed it turned into more of a casual chat. As I recall I was the only kid there but it didn’t feel like I was left out of the conversation. I think that’s the first time I’d ever heard of Bluetooth. And I think that her laptop is still the smallest one I’ve ever seen (except perhaps the MacBook Air but I can’t be certain), which is especially striking given how much technology has changed in ten years. While I’d certainly never wish such a horrific event on any person or city (metropolitan area if we’re making a strict parallel here), the upside of it all is I had every Young Wizard book (including the feline wizard books) published at that time signed, including my now ratty and several times taped up copy of A Wizard Abroad.
(So help me if any of you call me by my childhood nickname…)