Gibbering Fangirl

I know I’ve put up more than one post here that was along the lines of “OMG JOHN KERRY HAWT!1!!,” but really I try not to turn into a fawning goofball over too many celebrities. One good thing about journalism training is that it gives you sort of general expectations: you ask a question of someone, whether it’s a NASCAR driver or a preschool teacher, and they answer it.

Being easily starstruck in such a job doesn’t serve you well, as Elisabeth Bumiller demonstrated when she talked about being too intimidated to question the president on the eve of war. I don’t care if you think the mayor’s the best mayor ever, if your job is to ask him why he had parking tickets fixed for the girl he’s schtupping, that’s your job and you do it. Conversely, the woman down the street who witnessed a murder is no less worthy of your courtesy than said rich and powerful mayor. Good journalists, those trained right, learn to treat people with respect without losing sight of their objectives, which is to get the answer they came to get. And you also learn to respect people who don’t use celebrity status to make others feel small. Quit throwing phones at people, Russell Crowe.

There are very few people I’ve encountered who actually intimidate me enough to make me abandon that training and go into half-sentence gibbering incoherent mode. I met members of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team some years ago (while I wasn’t on the job, thank God, or I’d have been fired) and wasn’t able to get a complete word out. I just sort of stood there, unable to believe that a) these were the guys I’d watched over and over and over on TV and b) how completely nice they were, even Bobby Suter, who still hits like a freight train, even Herb Brooks, who was a goddamn coaching genuis.

Laurie King is another one who knocks me back on my heels. I’ve been a sort of amateur Sherlock Holmes scholar since high school; I’ve tried to read everything there was and my bookshelves are full of obscure studies and pastiches and imitations and various editions of A Study in Scarlet and it just never gets old for me. While I’m not a purist, I do have very high expectations of Holmes stories written by those not named Conan Doyle; I pick nits, I wince at bad lines, I put the book down once the characterization goes off the map (I’m talking to you, Sam Siciliano).

I’d read a thousand variations on the Holmesian love story before picking up King’s The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, and before that book none of them were real to me, none of them worked or got Holmes exactly right or gave me a heroine to whom I could actually picture him giving the time of day (the man’s a misogynist and you have to deal with that, you can’t just pretend it isn’t there). I loved Beekeeper and have read it dozens of times. When I heard she was coming to a Chicago ‘burb for a reading I had to go. And I turned into a stuttering idiot mess of “I really like your books” instead of asking what I really wanted to ask, which was “How in God’s name can you get it right when so many people can’t?”

I think one of the best things about blogging ever is that she has a blog.

The days before a book comes out are always an interesting time in a writer’s life. Interesting, you understand, in the Chinese-curse sense, which is accompanied by a vague sensation of fluttering panic and a specific awareness of panic because The Book—and last year’s book, at that–is going to overwhelm life for far too long and the current book is going to disappear completely at just the wrong time, the vulnerable time, never to recover…

Teach me your ways.

A.