Well, we did it. One author who had been on book tours but never done an out-of-state school visit. Three librarians who had never had a visiting author. Sixteen talks in four days, plus two lunches eating Papa Johns pizza with small groups of motivated kids.
At the middle school, the kids were more wiggly, but asked more questions. They asked better questions than the high schoolers. One girl asked me about the structure of Shock Point. The first section goes back and forth in time. That’s a question I’d never heard before. One boy asked me why I used the “b” word in the beginning of the book, which reminded me that I need to ask my editor to take it out of the paperback.
Even at the high school, where the boys were sometimes a challenge, there was still an openness when they talked to me one-on-one, a willingness to share their stories. Kids told me stories of parents in jail, sex abuse, parents who sold drugs, about not knowing who their father was because even their mother didn’t, about how hard it was to be the oldest in a large family, about how they were learning English, about not liking to read but liking my book. One girl had memorized a poem and then recited it to me.
One middle school girl was disappointed to hear that there wasn’t going to be a sequel to Shock Point, so she wrote the first three pages for me. It was actually pretty good.
- Kids like it when you talk about murder.
- All the kids in this part of Texas call you Miss.
- I like it better when they've read the book.
- People in Texas like Dr. Pepper.
- In Portland, there is a Starbucks on every corner. Someday soon a Starbucks will announce that it is opening another Starbucks inside an existing Starbucks. North of Austin, I guess they just drink Dr. Pepper.
- People in Texas think Oregonians have never eaten Mexican food. We have, but I must admit - y'all have damn good Mexican food.