THE FABULOUS KATHERINE ALICE APPLEGATE.
(Sorry the picture isn’t fabulous, she was talking and I felt awkward taking pictures of this amazing woman five feet from me, lol.)
I was checking my Twitter feed this morning (thank god for that) and I saw a tweet from Ms. Applegate (@kaaauthor, if you’re interested) saying she was doing a book signing downtown from 3-4:30! BUT NO THAT WAS TERRIBLE NEWS because today was Glenn’s graduation and I was going to head downtown with them and I’d have to be at their place at 3pm to do so!
So I decided, to hell with it: there was NO WAY I WAS MISSING THIS. I called up Glenn and told him I’d meet them there, I’d just find parking on my own and stuff— the bookstore is only about a ten-minute drive from the campus. So I left my house around 2:15 and headed downtown to Hicklebee’s!
The bookstore the signing was in was such a neat little place. A place I could easily spend hours in, trolling around, looking at all the books. Definitely catered more towards kids (I’m sure it helps that it’s kitty-corner from an elementary school), but with a decent teen/adult/dystopian section, lol.
I was talking to one of the workers briefly and I mentioned that I didn’t know places like this still existed! He asked if it was my first time there and I said yeah, so he took me to the back to show me the doors! Apparently it’s a tradition that all the authors that come through sign the doors/frames/walls/whatever, and oh man, did they have a collection. All the greats! Including a foot-tall Sorting Hat doodle by J. K. Rowling herself!
Anyway, Katherine was promoting her new book, The One and Only Ivan. It’s based on a true story of Ivan, a silverback gorilla who spent most of the first half of his life in a cage at a mall!
There were only a few other people in the shop, and most of them were teachers, so rather than just having us all line up to get autographs, we sat in a circle and Katherine told us about the new book and the story of Ivan, and people got to ask questions!
She was SO nice. Like, I hate just saying that about a person, but it’s true! I don’t know what I was expecting, really, but it wasn’t that. She was so… genuine, truly down to earth. You could tell she really wanted to be there and loved talking to fans and telling stories. I guess I was expecting her to seem more fake, like, Oh, another book tour, gotta write in more books, sign my name all over… but no. I was so impressed. Easy to talk to, excited to meet readers!
She talked about writing Animorphs with her husband (Michael Grant), and how they wrote the first thirty or so and then had to hand them off to ghostwriters (aside from the last few) because it was just too much. They were released one a month!!
I asked her about her inspiration for Remnants, since she’d mentioned earlier that she really just loves animals and writing about animals (she’d originally wanted to be a vet), and the Remnants series is… way off that path, lol. She just said, “Oh, I went a little crazy,” and told me that I was one of like three people that’s ever told her they’ve read those books, hahaha. They didn’t do very well, apparently. I asked her how many there ended up being (I think I only made it to 8 or 9) and she said she couldn’t even remember! “Maybe eleven?”
Some of the other ladies were laughing at that because eleven books seems like a ludicrous number today for a series that “didn’t do very well,” you know? Nowadays, you’re lucky to get a trilogy! That spawned a discussion about the publishing industry and just how fast the turnover for books is these days. Books can have a shelf life of only six months or less before they’re brought back to the factory. It’s become such a stingy industry, which is ridiculous because printing/publishing/shipping/whatever books is easier now than ever before. A few of the teachers complained about it, saying that when they look at the list in January (when it first comes out) to decide what books they want to teach in the next year (August, September etc.) that sometimes the books they’ve planned for aren’t even available anymore when the time comes!
Anyway, I acted sort of selfishly at this point because I had to split to get to Glenn’s graduation and I really wanted to get my book signed. It was all right, though, because the official time slot was almost over anyway. I felt bad though. >_>
I brought three books to be signed, all Animorphs. I brought my original #1, #54, and my lovely hardcover copy of Visser. I also showed her my Animorphs Sanctuary necklace, which is one of my prized possessions (and something I do still wear regularly, not just to meet famous authors!).
I told her that the first Remnants books is literally one of my favorite books ever, and she seemed really pleased (and surprised) to hear that. Told her that I’d even re-read it recently, which is totally true. The rest of the series was way off in the deep end, but man, that first book brings all the emotions.
She asked me how I liked the new Animorphs covers (the lenticular ones for the re-released versions). I said they were all right, but the original ones were way cooler. She and I both mourned the loss of the little flipbook images at the bottom corners of the original books, lol. And we both agreed that it was good they changed the original choice for Marco cover model (he was way whitewashed, ugh).
I commented that up until a few years ago, I hadn’t even known what the K.A. stood for, that it was always so ambiguous. And she said that she figured they did that on purpose, that maybe it wouldn’t sell as well (i.e., to boys) if everyone knew it was written by a woman. I think I always knew the author was female, though (even though I just checked and there isn’t an “About the Author” segment at the end of any of the books, lol, so I dunno). Interesting, gender biases…
As she was pulling my books out of my bag and opening them for her to sign, she goes, “So you just want me to sign these generically so you can sell them on eBay, right?” and I replied, “Noo!” indignantly. HAHA. Yeah right! lmao. She told me that her family used to have oodles of them in her garage (in all kinds of languages, no less) and that one day they decided to donate all of them to a library in Chicago, I think she said? But they accidentally got rid of ALL of them and since they were out of print by that point, she had to buy a full set off eBay. HAHAHA.
Anyway, it was just a REALLY COOL experience. Would recommend. :)
And here’s what she wrote!