Thanks to our dear friend Autumn and the magic of social media, Daina and I learned that one of her all-time favorite authors, Anna Banks, was at Books-a-Million, ten short minutes away, signing books tonight. Anna Banks’ Of Poseidon series is one of Daina’s obsessions, so we had to scoot over there before the whole shebang ended.
It’s one thing to fall in love with a book with the author in an undisclosed location however far away it might be, but it’s another thing entirely to get to look at the person face to face and think you’re the one who did that. Each time it’s like discovering penicillin, only you can do it more than once.
I remember when Daina finished Of Triton. She was sitting beside me as we drove down Lovejoy on the backroads’ way home from yet another trip to the bookstore, and I saw the hardback book shut in her lap, almost on its own, her staring straight ahead, stoically looking through the sun-streaked glass of the windshield in a way she ordinarily didn’t. Ordinarily, she would move onto her backup book, but she just sat there. And then I heard it—a sniffle.
A sniffle at the hand of a book, the first I’d witnessed from her, all twelve best-friend years with this daughter of mine, and it reminded me instantly of the time idiot me took her to see Bridge to Terabithia before we’d read the book and been warned about the ending, as we sat in the theater, shivering out hard and ugly cries conveniently close to the exit door. I remember trying to talk to her and whisper, “We don’t have to stay. We can leave now,” and I remember equally well, her shoving my hand away when I tried to hold her own, as if to say, “I can take this. I can do this by myself. I’m okay with crying through this. I just don’t want to talk about it. Let’s pretend we’re here alone—just until the credits roll.”
That sniffle from Of Triton inadequately prepared me for the deluge that would follow her ending the Divergent series, which was nothing less than a total meltdown with at least a business day’s worth of moping for each book in the series added on for good measure. In her words, “Veronica Roth ripped my heart out, rubbed it in broken glass, and put it back in.”
Thank God for these moments—at all ages. What is life without these moments? They slow us down and remind us we’re breathing. They make the ordinary extraordinary, punctuated. They pull us out from our ostrich selves. The pause and the punctuation, whether for tragedy or triumph, stop us dead in the most beautiful ways.
To get to meet the person who had you at that moment—who got you feeling a thing and created it all from nothing—wow. It is a moment of real and immediate gratitude. At least a thank you must come out first. There is really nothing else to say sometimes.
“She will be my second favorite author I’ve ever met,” Daina said, getting into the car for an impromptu 8 p.m. book signing.
“Who’s your first favorite?” I asked.
“You,” she said.
“I’m not a real writer yet,” I told her.
“You look real.”
Daina’s Terrific Account of Meeting Anna Banks
I bought my first Anna Banks book, Of Poseidon, at Barnes and Noble a couple years ago. I picked it up because it was an autographed copy of a book with Poseidon on it. He’s the Greek lord of the sea, and it had a picture of a teenager in a dress swimming through the water, and I find those sorts of things interesting.
Of Poseidon is about a teenager named Emma who is half-human, half-Syrena, which is kind of like a mermaid. The book is really exciting and fun, so much that I bought Of Triton, its sequel, immediately when it came out. I can’t say anything really about this book without spoiling it for you, but you should read it. Of course, you should read it! If you love marine biology, mermaids, underwater things, or even just seafood, you should read these books. I love those things, and I love these books.
Tonight I got to meet Anna Banks because she was doing a book signing at Books-a-Million for Of Neptune, the newest in the series. My mom had seen a friend post pictures of the signing on Facebook, so we weren’t sure that she would still be there, but we were going to try to catch her before she left. I was so worried that I would pass out on her. I told my mother that, if I did pass out on her, she should tell Anna Banks that I was terribly sorry and would promise to try to never meet her again so that I wouldn’t risk passing out on her again. How embarrassing.
On the drive there, I wanted to jump out of the car and run to Books-a-Million. I yelled at every red light and screamed, “Yes!” every time the light turned green. By the time we got to the parking lot, I wanted to jump off a building in excitement. I was so excited until I walked into the store. At that point, I wanted to run out of the building instead. We walked to the back of the store where we saw some people standing around her, and when I saw her, I wanted to go look at other things and pretend I didn’t know what she wrote or who she was, but I knew I couldn’t because I love the books too much to do that. My mom introduced me to her, and I was nervous, so I told her, “Sorry, I’m just really nervous.” She told me, “Don’t be nervous or else you’ll make me nervous!” She was extremely nice. She let me take a picture with her, she gave me a button with “Angelfish” on it, the nickname Galen gave Emma in the book, and she gave me a trident temporary tattoo and a bookmark, which she signed in gold and blue.
Meeting Anna Banks was a great experience, and I’d love to do it again—maybe when the next book comes out!
So, thank you, Anna Banks, for these moments and memories—the ones you write in books and the ones you make in person. You’ve got the sort of magic that lingers, and that’s the best kind.