BrooksBlog: Meeting Karen Russell
So, something special happened to me Saturday night, and I wanted to share it.
Some years ago, Judine and I read a wonderful book titled Swamplandia by an author named Karen Russell. It was one of those magical books in which life and fantasy in the present interacted in the life of a young girl in Florida. I love these type of books anyway, but this one was particularly memorable. Later, we chose it in our bookclub to read and I think everyone in our group loved it, too. Then, a couple of years later, Karen wrote a piece that appeared in the New Yorker in which she credited much of her early passion for writing to her reading my work – particularly Elfstones of Shannara. She even went so far as to say that while others might encourage her to read Jane Austin, she would be happier with Terry Brooks.
Well this doesn’t happen every day, so I wrote her to thank her and we began a correspondence. At the time, she was living in Florida, but subsequently she married and moved to Portland. I thought we would see each other then without too much trouble – because we had never met, even with corresponding as we did – but obstacles had presented themselves whenever we tried.
This all changed this weekend, Saturday night, at the Midwinter ALA in Seattle, where I was scheduled to be on panel of authors talking to a select group of librarians. Right up to then, I didn’t know who else would be on the panel. But Karen found out first and wrote to ask if it was really true that I would be on the panel with her. So we finally met – after all this time – and it was such a joy. She is a lovely person – very smart and funny – so we were able to finally put that goal to bed. We shared only about forty minutes before she had to fly back to her family in Portland, but it was forty minutes I will not soon forget.
Authors are like everyone else in one regard. We seek out people we respect and admire. We think meeting them is special. I am that way about writers because I am one of the tribe. But meeting Karen Russell was a real high point for me. Judine and I will see her and her husband soon, I think, in Portland, and the conversation will continue. Happy, happy, happy am I.
I can feel Judine patting me on the head and saying, “There, there, calm down.”
I don’t regret feeling this way one bit. Terry