Now, I’ve been to author signings before, but usually none quite so specific and cozy as an actual bookstore signing. Last Wednesday pretty much marks the first and hopefully one of several excursions to Books of Wonder for an author reading and signing of a newly-launched title.
The author in question? Fantasy and sci-fi writer Garth Nix.
I got introduced to Nix pretty young-ish, probably in elementary school, beginning of high school. At the time, Sabriel stuck out to me because it was about a girl fresh out of non-magical finishing school who undergoes a journey to the magical world in order to find her necromancer father. I mean, hello, female protagonist? Good necromancers? A kingdom rife with Free and Charter Magics? Sold on the first read.
It took longer to get into the rest of the Old Kingdom series because I’d initially thought Sabriel was a one-off. At the time, it was. Then Lirael and Abhorsen came out almost a decade later (which I then read and devoured sometime in my college years). And Clariel was launched almost twenty years after Sabriel came out. So yeah, long waits.
Quite unlike the original trilogy, Clariel takes place some six hundred years before the events in Sabriel, to a more prosperous Old Kingdom. While I adored Sabriel and Mogget, and fell in love with Sam and Lirael, it wasn’t the characters that drew me into the stories to begin with. The most distinct qualities of Nix’s Old Kingdom series had always been the world itself; the non-magical Ancelstierre and the creatures and magic of the Old Kingdom. I’ve always loved reading about Charter Magic, and Free Magic, and when the Clayr showed up, I was all “OOH YAY MORE PRETTY PEOPLES AND MAGIC STUFF”. So Clariel has almost none of the characters of its predecessors. Doesn’t matter. I’m going to the Old Kingdom again, yay!
It also helped that there’s a dragon-like creature on the cover. Seriously awesome.
The wait hadn’t been long, either. Well, I’d gotten to the bookstore an hour before the event, and bought myself a copy of Clariel. The waiting number wasn’t too bad, either; 139 may seem like a lot, but the queue actually started at 131, so I was at a good position signing-wise. That said, while I was pretty early, I wasn’t the only one, and waiting around for the author to show up wasn’t as long and arduous as I thought it would be.
What I did love about the particular waiting experience had been the fact that I was amidst a group of Nix fans. Which, in turn, probably meant that they were fantasy book fans. I’m normally not very talkative with strangers, but put me in a room with people who have similar tastes as I, and there was bound to be an abundance of conversation! Half an hour of gushing about Tamora Pierce and Avatar: The Last Airbender/The Legend of Korra and before I knew it, the event was well under way to starting!
The whole event comprised of excerpt readings from Nix’s “first self-published story” and of course, from Clariel. Thankfully he didn’t read out anything too spoilery, since I haven’t started the book itself (truthfully, I don’t plan to until sometime next year, once I’ve re-read Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen). Then it boiled down to a Q&A session, which had been very insightful, and finally the signing and brief meet n’ greet time. Sadly, by that point, my phone ran out of battery, so asking for a picture with the author was out of the question. At least I got a shot of him doing his excerpt reading…
And to top it off, of course I ended up buying the rest of the Old Kingdom novels. I already do own a copy of Sabriel (the original cover, if that), but since I didn’t own the other books, getting a full set with similar covers was too much to pass up. Now, if I can only find the shelf-space for them.
Oh well! Where there’s a will, there’s a way!