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July 30, 2010

Carol Lynch Williams: Why I Stared (I Swear I Didn’t Mean To)

Posted by Marisa Emralino

lynchwilliams-carol.jpgglimpse.jpgCarol Lynch Williams --- author of nearly a dozen books, including PRETTY LIKE US, THE CHOSEN ONE, and the newly released GLIMPSE --- joins today with a tale from her travels to this year's American Library Association conference, where she couldn't help but get a little starstruck in the presence of some fellow YA heavyweights.

So guess where I ended up at ALA this year? At a small dinner with some very smart teens from California, some wonderful librarians and teachers, and four fantastic authors.

“Oh my gosh,” I said to my daughters, Laura and Kyra (who went to ALA with me). “I have to speak in the same room, at the same dinner with Holly Black, Sharon Draper, Ellen Hopkins, and Elizabeth Scott.”

“Are you kidding me, Mom?”

I was not kidding. At all. In fact, I was so not kidding that my stomach started to hurt.

“What in the world am I going to say?” I couldn’t think about the upcoming dinner. I felt sick. These women are, like, famous writers. My heroes.

The deal is, I knew I was not going to be able to control my eyes. I had already seen Holly Black in the hotel lobby like 1800 times and my eyes had minds of their own and MADE ME LOOK at her. Stare. With admiration. (I think this is why she kind of ran whenever I was near. But I swear, I was only a visual stalker.)

So, imagine going into a room with Holly Black (who wore a mustache), Sharon Draper (who showed a touching power point presentation), Ellen Hopkins (who spoke openly of her life), and Elizabeth Scott (who read from her newest book). Would you stare?

Yes. Yes, you would.

And those girls were marvelous. I LOVED getting to be with them, to just be on the speaking docket with them. I apologized for staring, and I even got some advice. Ellen Hopkins told my girls to tell me that I should always write the truth --- and not be afraid to write the truth. And Sharon Draper hugged me and told me I had done a good job speaking and that I should not apologize for who I am.

But I don’t think she meant to not apologize about the staring. Because that, we all know, is rude. No matter how fabulous the writer is.

-- Carol Lynch Williams