There are so many words. There are no words. This weekend. This weekend! Epic. Inspiring. Madly fun. Fact: You can actually become used to seeing Neil Gaiman and Patrick Rothfuss and Scott Lynch, you know, around. The more you know.
I left the house at 4 am. Nothing at the airport was open, withholding coffee from me until I was in the belly of the metal bird. The flight was uneventful. Reading was impossible. I was so excited. I was so tired. I wanted to finish Red Seas Under Red Skies, I really did. Instead I stared into space, accumulating excited little sparks between my ears. Then I was in England with luggage to pick up and a train system to figure out and e-tickets to print.
As I stood fumbling with my ticket in front of the gates to the tracks at London Victoria, Scott Lynch and Elizabeth Bear walked past me, pulling suitcases and shouldering bags. I had never seen a picture of Elizabeth Bear, but I recognized Scott from youtube interviews, and I extrapolated. Then, feeling kind of creepy but not really because THERE IS SCOTT LYNCH & YOU DON’T GET THIS CHANCE TWICE, I sat across from them in the train, where I became too agitated to speak. Turns out that eavesdropping and sort-of staring are almost as satisfying. Turns out the false intimacy of twitter and the realities of celebrities make strange bedfellows.
I had had an hour’s wait at the London Victoria train station before my train to Brighton. I had spent some of it figuring out the twitter. (If you want to hear me tweeting about speculative fiction, you can find me @bookpunks. Tell your friends.) I had spent some of it reading Scott Lynch’s tweets. He was tired. He had been on a long flight. And then suddenly there he fucking was standing right in front of me. What could I say? I knew he was tired. I knew too much. Jet-lagged people don’t need any extra hassles. Do they? But I like it when people tell me they like my work. Did he? When is it too much? When is it inappropriate? How do you walk the line between creepy and considerate with a celebrity? How famous was he exactly? Did people come up to him on the street all the time? Was it still novel? And the twitter! He offers information freely on twitter, but having read it just before seeing the real person, I couldn’t get the creepy off. I didn’t say a word.
In retrospect, this was probably a regrettable move.
And yet, even without talking to them, it was exciting. There they were, two famous authors, sitting next to me on a train. They looked out the windows, they played with their phones, they held hands, they fell asleep, they drank coffee, they chatted. A man two rows behind them was reading Republic of Thieves. I tried to signal him. The author of the book you’re reading is sitting two rows away from you, you fool! I considered passing him a note. I assumed he was going to the World Fantasy Convention too. He wasn’t. How’s that for a coincidence?
Off of the train, I rolled my suitcase behind me and, leaving Lynch and Bear somewhere on the platform, began my walking tour of Brighton’s used book stores. It was raining, it was grey, it was chilly, but the city was full of magic, real and imagined and extrapolated.