The first amazing writer I met and had a conversation with was … Katherine Paterson! Yes. THE Katherine Paterson! How did I have the nerve to strike up a conversation about the fact that we both could trace a part of our family history – her’s through her husband – to Scotland via the Paterson (one “t”!) name, as well as the fact that we are both adoptive moms?
Obviously, the first factor was that I’d never heard of her because I’d been living under a rock and deep in the trenches of young children when her amazing work first came out. The second factor was that I met her under the least auspicious circumstances possible: she was at a regional SCBWI conference at the request of a long-time friend. The conference was a one-day affair in a church with a parking lot that is always jammed. Factor three? It was the very first children’s writing conference I attended.
Imagine my horror when she was ultimately introduced – full credentials cited – and went on to tell a very funny story about her granddaughter, the Queen of Denmark, and the Hans Christian Andersen Award. (If you’re cringing in horror, you definitely get it!)
Since that day, I’ve been at one other conference where Katherine Paterson was a speaker. This time it was the SCBWI Annual Winter Conference. I probably would have gotten it that she was an author of note that time from the fact that she was a prominent part of the program, but honestly, she is such a warm and gracious person that I still might have gotten up the nerve to speak to her — Not!
I’m blushing crimson to admit there are several other authors I’ve met in similar fashion. More in the future!