A few months ago, I checked author Francesca Lia Block's blog and idly scanned her upcoming appearances. And then I seriously screamed out loud. SCREAMED. The Decatur Book Festival! Down the street from my house. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
FLB is a writer who is so important to me. She's up there with Tori Amos as one of my heroines, one of my touchstones, someone who helped shape who I became. It's so hard to put this into words (there's that evil little voice cackling at me "you call yourself a writer?!" Oh shut up, evil little voice. You suck...) You'll just have to trust me. I wrote about her in grad school and when I had to present the paper, I got choked up. It's a gut feeling I have about her, rather than one I can really explain, I suppose.
So I never thought I'd get to meet her. I don't remember her doing a book tour in the past, or at least not one that came anywhere near me in New York, Massachusetts, or Georgia. My friend Liz was lucky enough to take several writing classes with her in California and I thought that six-degrees-type connection was the closest I'd come. But now it looks like it might really, truly happen next Saturday!
I am fairly certain I first learned about Weetzie Bat in Sassy magazine (see: another important piece of the Marla puzzle). I ran out and read it and I was hooked. I loved Weetzie. That book was magic. And then - THEN! - I read Witch Baby and there was the connection. The character of Witch Baby really grabbed me in my angsty early 20s, grad school, figuring out the real world, Boston, New York City, home but not home.... "What time are we upon and where do I belong?" Oh yes. YES. Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys was wonderful, but when I read Missing Angel Juan, my heart cracked open. (I desperately wanted to send a passage from that book to someone who broke my heart - I even copied it out and put it aside to send, though I never did.) That book is everything to me. And then I befriended someone who worked at Horn Book and she hooked me up with an advance copy of Baby BeBop. Years later, Liz shared her advance copy of Necklace of Kisses with me - another book that really resonated with me, as I had aged just like Weetzie had. It was fascinating to find a character I'd grown up with growing up too. (I've also read and loved Pink Smog - perfect! Weetzie full circle! Although I didn't really mind feeling that Weetzie herself just sort of...appeared, fully formed, in the world, it was nice to get a look at who she had been and who she would become.)
Beyond the Dangerous Angels/Weetzie books, the other FLB book that had a huge impact on me was Guarding the Moon, which is about her first year of motherhood. I read it before I had a child and after, and I got something different out of it both times. And then there was Zine Scene, her book with Hillary Carlip about zines. As a 90s zinegirl, that book was also really meaningful for me - and friends of mine are in it! And I think I've read everything else she's ever written. I'm a wicked fangirl, I swear, and I cannot WAIT to read Love in the Time of Global Warming next.
(Probably the rarest thing in my collection is my first edition (paperback) of Ecstasia - I found it at a bookstore in Harvard Square in the late 90s for something like $2 and I treasure it. I don't know if I'll bring it along next Saturday or not...)
And now she's coming to my city. I don't know what to say! What to bring to have signed! What to wear! I think that as with the times I was able to meet Tori Amos, I might have to write a note instead and hand it over. My voice is sure to shake. I might cry. I probably will say something ridiculous instead of profound. But then again I might be brave - try to find my almost-40-brave-self - and tell her how much she means to me. How much her words have meant to me. How she's my rockstar. How when she interviewed Tori, my brain may have exploded just a little bit. How...everything.