Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Meeting Sarah Dessen!

If you've read my blog at all, you probably already know I'm CRAZY for Sarah Dessen. She's my favorite author and the reason I write about girls and their families. Her books taught me how to tell stories. Basically, she's my writing role model, and I would LOVE to have a career like hers.

She's been on tour for her newest book, SAINT ANYTHING (read my review here!), for the past month. When I saw she was coming to Pennsylvania, my heart leapt and then immediately fell. The day of her event I'd be traveling in South Africa with Chatham. 

I was so upset, but my mom went to the signing for me. She got some of my books signed and gave Sarah a letter I'd written. I remember waking up in Cape Town the following morning to tons of Facebook pictures from my mom of the event. 

That same day, I was scrolling through Sarah's Twitter feed and saw she'd just added an event in Princeton, NJ, less than two hours from my house. I immediately messaged my mom (although she was 6 hours behind me and still sleeping at the time), and over the next day we made tentative plans to go to this signing as well. 

And on May 28, we drove to NJ for the event! We got there super early to get a line number and then hung out at the mall where the Barnes and Noble was. The store was so relaxed and we got seats in the front row for Sarah's discussion. 

GUYS. Sarah is EXACTLY like I hoped she'd be. Friendly, funny, normal, and adorable! She immediately started joking about the traffic (she was a couple minutes late because she came from NYC) and told us how her grandparents used to live in Princeton. Then she talked about SAINT ANYTHING and the book she put aside before writing it. She also read the first few pages and said she wrote them on January 1st because she heard that whatever you do on the first of the year, you'll do every day after that ("I'm superstitious, and whatever anyone else believes, I automatically believe too."). 

She took a few questions before starting the signing line. I asked her about the essay she wrote for Seventeen about how she hung out with an older guy in high school who made her uncomfortable. It's a great essay about being "nice" vs. sticking up for yourself...definitely check it out! She said it was weird to write nonfiction and she was nervous when it was published, but the response has been super positive. But she said she probably won't write more nonfiction for a while after this!

Then it was on to the signing line! I was fourth in line, and as soon as I walked up, she said she loved my dress. I told her I loved hers, too, then went on and talked about missing her signing in Haverford and sending my mom instead. She remembered my mom and hearing about me and went, "You're the girl from Africa!" :p We chatted about that for a minute, took a picture, and then I told her that her books started me on my serious writing path. 

She thanked me and said, "Keep writing!" and then I went "You--" and rapped my hand against the stack of her books in my arms. She laughed and said, "I'm trying!" She is the sweetest! THE. SWEETEST. 

I've wanted to meet Sarah for YEARS but never thought she'd have an event close to me. Thursday night was so wonderful! Thank you Sarah! And thanks to my mom, who rode along and hung out with me all day and navigating when I got lost in the parking lot! :)

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