I’m not a girl who has lots of celebrity stories to tell. I’ve met numerous sport stars and movie-industry people (both porn and mainstream) while working in strip clubs. I waited on Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, both of whom were nice and gave autographs for a friend of mine that was a NASCAR fan (I had zero idea of who they were until years later). I saw Luke Wilson in Baby Dolls. I saw Dennis Rodman at Cabaret Royale a number of times. Once he was walking by my table and suddenly bent over and looked into my face from about two inches away (I think he was looking for one of his regular girls and all blonde strippers look alike, you know). That was a surprising moment, to say the least. And the biggest “celebrity” I met while escorting was a high-ranking executive for an Internet company (the company is a household name but he wasn’t). Still, it wasn’t like he had a problem paying his electric bill.

None of this has moved me a bit. In June, I went to see a reading given by Jacqueline Carey. And I was star-struck.

She looks like her pictures, if a little more tired (a grueling book-signing schedule). She’s on the borderline between attractive and average, but something about her makes one look twice. Her voice is uneven and not the voice of a polished speaker or storyteller. But again, there’s something about her…

Maybe it’s just my knowledge of what she’s imagined and put to paper. Maybe that’s what gives her this aura. Or maybe her own mind shines through her skin. At any rate, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only groveling idiot in the crowd.

She has drawn an interesting crowd, even for San Francisco. There are all sorts of people here; some obviously after the sexual aspects of her books (like me!) and others who are drawn by the rich, fantasy, alter-world she’s created. One girl dresses like the main character (Phedre) from the second book in the series. So what if none of the details are correct (like the girl has sandy hair, not dark hair)? She made the effort and gets her picture with Miss Carey on the front page of the site (it’s now off the front page and I couldn’t find it archived on the site).

The Q&A session is most interesting. Some stupid questions are asked, but most of the questions are ones I want to hear. Miss Carey answers with wit and outlasts us. When the questions die down, she prepares for book signings. Although I’m here to see her in person and to get a book signed, after hearing her speak, I want her to keep speaking but all my questions sound stupid in my head.

I do get to ask her one question, courtesy of a pen-pal, and her answer was what I expected, although I was hoping to get pleasantly surprised. (Believe it or not, I was the first person to ask a question.) I ask another during the course of the session but can no longer remember what it was. I also mash someone’s toes with my heel as I try to doge around another person to get a better view.

As I stand in line to get my book signed, I review what I want to say to her. It all sounds too adulatory to me. I also wonder if I should introduce myself and mention my blog post (several months ago I wrote her a fan letter and linked my post; she liked it). I decide to be myself, not Amanda.

It’s my turn and she takes my book (“It’s my favorite” I whisper), signing it with my name. Trying not to lose this valuable moment, I stammer something about how “awesome” her books are and how I don’t normally read fantasy. I’m articulate as drugged teenager meeting Johnny Depp (or something). I embarrass myself completely. She smiles nicely but is definitely not impressed.

I move toward the counter in a daze, clutching my book. I buy a copy of her new book (the reason she’s here) and walk outside to wait on my ride. I sit on the curb, reading from the new book, staring into space reviewing my stupidity and listening to the people come out of the bookstore.

I consider going back and hanging out. It’s obvious I fled too early. She might say something really meaningful and I’ll miss it. And what will happen when the Phedre-girl gets to meet Miss Carey? But I have to wait on my ride since I don’t want to walk out of San Francisco.

Still, I’m very happy. I got to meet Jacqueline Carey.

Why does this mean so much to me? She’s not a celebrity by any stretch of the imagination. Her books are famous, but only among certain circles. Was I star-struck simply because her work means so much to me? Is it because she has completely captured my imagination? Or is it the value I put on writing? Would I react this way if I met, say, Ann Quindlen? Or is it my own bias? Because she helped me make sense of things in way that I had not come to myself? (See earlier blog post for an explanation.) Am I going to behave like an idiot anytime I meet someone that I consider amazing? Probably so, which is kind of depressing.

So what is my basis for determining someone amazing? I haven’t figured that out yet. Would I act this way in the presence of Paris Hilton? No. Angelina Jolie? I’m sure of it.

This incident is funny. It’s shown me something new about myself that I had never realized before. But I wish I had thought to bring cue cards with me.

Next time.

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