Today my daughter Madison went to the conference with me — she wanted to see R.L. Stine. But first we attended an informative and amusing panel with Lee Child, Michael Palmer and Alex Kava called Thriller Writers Who Write Thrilling Stuff or something like that. I don’t remember. But all the authors were great. Lee said that he already knew the title of his final Jack Reacher story. "It will be called ‘Die Lonely’ and Reacher will be dismembered," he said. "There will be no chance for resurrection for him and I’ll retire." (That’s a quote from memory, so forgive me if it’s not exact).
After that I met the lovely and gracious Tess Gerritsen, who signed a book for me, and then it was off to the R.L Stine luncheon. We ran into Stine outside the ballroom and he was kind enough to sign all of Maddie’s books and chat with her a bit about writing. M. Diane Vogt took a picture of Maddie and Stine together, which was a real thrill for my daughter. Afterwards, though, Maddie was upset that she forgot to ask him the question that she’d been waiting a year to ask. I told her it was okay, I’m sure there would be a question-and-answer session after his presentation.
Sure enough, there was. Maddie nudged me and told me to raise my hand for her. But as soon as the guy brought the microphone over, Maddie froze. "You ask for me, Daddy," and she thrust the book in my hand.
So I did. It’s the story of a mermaid who is captured by bad guys and held captive in an aquarium. There’s a part that didn’t make sense to Maddie, so I read it aloud. The mermaid is so sad, the hero can see tears running down her cheeks. Maddie’s question was: "How can he see tears if she is underwater?"
The audience laughed and Stine did, too. His reply was that the mermaid has to come up for air some time — that must have been one of those times. Of course, Maddie whispers to me "She wasn’t coming up for air, tell him!" I didn’t. The moderator asked Stine if he wanted to take any more questions and, laughing, he said that last question was enough.
Several people afterwards thanked Maddie for asking her good question. But a few others walked past me, shaking their heads in disapproval. I don’t think Stine was embarrassed by the question. He’s a guy who clearly enjoys a good laugh. If he wasn’t, I might have hesitated before passing along her query. But it was a question she really wanted to ask and it was a fair one. I wanted her to learn that it’s okay to ask questions when you don’t understand something.
I know that Thrillfest has thrilled my daughter so, for me, the convention is a big success.
5 thoughts on “Thrillerfest Day Two”
Any writer worth his salt (or pepper, for that matter) should be a able to chuckle over a mistake like that. They happen all the time. In essays and interviews Stephen King jokes about all the mistakes he makes, like how a character wearing a straight jacket wiped his forehead with the back of his hand, or how he mistook a subway storage shack for a toilet staff in The Stand, or the his script for Maximum Overdrive.
I’m thrilled you asked that question for her. And his reaction sounds about right, too. It sounds like there were some grumps in the audience, however.
yeah, mistakes of logic happen. i always catch a few in the galleys, and worry about the ones i missed.
my daugher was a huge R.L. Stine fan when she was a kid and still has all of his books from that time period. she was tempted to go to thrillerfest just to see him.
i did a quick google and it seems that some of the small round pebbles found on the beach are actually mermaid tears.
I don’t remember where I first heard this, but those smoothed pieces of glass you find washed up on shore are also called mermaid’s tears.
It’s a poetic image for what’s basically debris polluting the ocean…..
The question brought down the house and I think Lee’s right that RL Stine took it in good humor. Poor Maddie seemed a little embarrased by all the attention, though. 🙂
I spoke to RL for just a bit and he seemed to be as friendly and pleasant as you could hope for. (He also seemed quite pleased to have been invited to participate in a conference for adults.)