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Monday, June 04, 2007


What a weekend! Signings! Book Expo America! Parties! So much to tell you about!

Right now, I am in Pennsylvania, at Chez Johnson. I drove down here last night, very late, in the middle of a huge thunderstorm. There is nothing like driving through New York in a blinding rain to give you a sense of Perspective and Your Own Mortality.

I was just looking for some lunch. My parents are extremely clean people, but the one thing they never do is clean out the refrigerator, so I take it upon myself to be the date-checking fairy when I am here. Now that I have completed my duty, I see there is very little left to eat. I found what I thought was blue cheese, and was excited by the prospect of a big salad, but discovered when I pulled it out of the back of the fridge that is was in fact suet for birds. And there is no lettuce. So that idea is pretty much dead.

The reason I am here is because I am signing books! Before I go any further, let me give the dates where you can see me this week:

MONDAY (today): Chester County Books, West Chester, PA, 7pm

TUESDAY: Barnes and Noble, Oxford Valley, PA, 7pm

WEDNESDAY: New York Public Library, Tompkins Square, 6pm

SATURDAY: Books of Wonder, New York City, noon

And a heads up on next week, which will be in Atlanta, Georgia.

Okay, let’s rewind to before the storm and the blue cheese/suet. Let’s go all the way back to Friday. I had done a reading at Borders on Columbus Circle the night before—the first official Girl At Sea reading. On Friday morning, I was at the Children’s Books Breakfast at Book Expo America, which is a massive publishing event. Daphne Unfeasible came by to get me in an Unfeasiblemobile at 7 in the morning, and we were very grunt-grunt but content as we rode to town. When we arrived at 7:45, BEA still felt very fresh and new and just about awake.

The breakfast was fantastic. Well, the speakers were. My friend Libba Bray was the MC, and she did an amazing job. She didn’t seem at all freaked out by the thousand or so people in front of her. The speakers were Jacqueline Wilson (megafamous in the UK), Daniel Pinkwater, and Mo Willems. I happen to be a little obsessed with the Pigeon that Mo is so famous for. In fact, when I spoke after him at the Brooklyn Book Festival, I stole the pigeon from the drawing pad that he left behind.

So, naturally, I wanted the pigeon that he drew at the breakfast. I wanted it very badly. In fact, I kind of wanted to throw myself at him and get him to draw a pigeon on my arm so that I could get it tattooed in, but ultimately chickened out, even though Daphne was trying to get me to go talk to him.

But it turned out that MC Libba HAD THE PIGEON, and when she saw how much I coveted it, she gave it to me.

I now own TWO original pigeons!

I am officially on my way to a collection.


The breakfast was an amazing gathering of friends and fabulous writers I was meeting for the first time. Along with Libba, I saw: Holly Black, Cassie Clare, E. Lockhart, Sarah Beth Durst, Ally Carter.

As Daphne, Sarah, and I made our way out to the main part of the expo, my phone kept ringing—Scott Westerfeld had sprung to life, still suffering greatly from jetlag, and John Green came sproinging along, fresh from a call to a mortgage broker or something like that. He looked slightly puffy.

Thus, I got to walk around in what I kept referring to as my “fame sandwich.” You can get pretty much anywhere in Book Expo America if you are walking between John Green and Scott Westerfeld. People sometimes squeal when they see them. I am used to them by now, and so do not squeal. Mo Willems, though . . .

As the 30,000 people filtered into BEA, the day sort of got less and less antically fun, mostly because it took on the air of a bazaar in the middle of the desert, or the stateroom scene from A Night at the Opera. And the air conditioning began to fail. Daphne and I escaped late in the afternoon, so that I could get to my reading on time. Sadly, we could not find any cabs, and it was 92 degrees out, and we were each carrying about fifty pounds of books. So we wandered around the far west side sadly.

Saturday brought one of the highlights of the summer. I was at the Spiderwick movie party. I can tell a good part of this story in pictures.

The party was at a big studio, which was draped and fogged up to look magical and mysterious. The room was decorated with props from the movie—Victorian sofas and desks and scientific instruments—projected spiderwebs, and movie stills. They were serving drinks called Spidertinis, which were deep green and sort of smelled like the stuff I was using last week to get the paint off my paint brushes. They tasted much like how they smelled, but they were highly effective, and explain a lot of the faces I can be seen making in the pictures below.

Scott was there, and so was Justine, who was finally alive enough to come out of the house. I was standing with Scott by a back wall, when suddenly some people came and told us to move, immediately. An actor was giving a speech, and was having us all recite a magical incantation, and then all of the sudden, the wall we had just been up against started making a noise.

I looked at Scott, and he looked at me. Our looks were puzzled, yet knowing, if you can imagine such a thing. Then, all of the sudden, there was A LOT OF AIR AND SMOKE AND AHHHHHH THE NOISE THE PAINFUL NOISE MY EAR IS BLEEDING AHHHHHHHH!

And the entire wall came away, and there was a whole other room behind it, full of things that were made to look oversized, so that we would seem small, like fairies.

“My ear,” I said to Scott. But he could not hear me, because he was holding his ear.

But the room was fantastic. There was a bar that looked like a cracker box and tables that were boxes of matches. The buffet had a giant cheeseburger, about the size of a beach ball. When you turned the corner, there was a screening room, with fabulous benches that you will see for yourself.

Holly got up and made a speech, but for most of the night, I think she was away wth Important People getting her photo taken. I do not think she was drinking spidertinis. We all went out for food later, and she didn't have the spidertini stare. She just looked glamourous.

Here are some poorly taken and even more poorly edited photos of the event.

SPIDERWALL! The picture does not do the room justice.

Movie stills. Nothing like a picture of pictures to really bring the event alive. (They were so cool, though.)

Scott Westerfeld, now deaf, tries to steal this oversized muffin from the magic room.

Scott and Cassie Clare. No spidertinis.

The screening room seats were made to look like huge candy boxes. And that’s me, lounging. Sadly, there was no candy in there. Spidertini count: ???

The star of the evening, Holly Black, looking relaxed.

And here is a sequence of photos showing me wooing a very jetlagged Justine. More tomorrow . . . promise! I have very exciting news to tell! Enough gleeful bragging and Spidertini blackmail photos. We will never speak of this again. For now, I have to get something to eat and get on my way out to West Chester. I wonder if bird suet makes a good sandwich . . .


A softening.

Twoo wuv.

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Blogger ozjazza said...

Maureen Johnson, you are in such big trouble you will be sitting on the naughty mat for the rest of your life! There will be smacks!

Furthermore you are cut off from further alcohol! How could you have forgotten that YA authors do not drink!


PS Those are not really pictures of me. That's an imposter.

10:16 PM  
Anonymous Brittany said...

Just finished Girl at Sea. Loved it! I wish I could make it out to one of the readings! The BEA sounds like it was a blast=)

10:24 PM  
Anonymous kiersten said...

so funny. you're so close to me right now! like 10 min away at the most! can't wai to see you tommorow.

11:46 PM  
Anonymous kiersten said...

the rain was like a torrential downpour. everything got soaked and my school got hit by lightning. all the electrical stuff was messed up all day.

12:26 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I have serious Pigeon envy.

12:47 AM  
Blogger Jez said...

Nice pics.
I got my Girl at Sea postcard today and I'm so happy about it! I've only read the first few chapters of the book (I walked over to Barnes and Noble to read it while waiting a really long time for a table at the olive garden). I'm definately buying it soon!

1:00 AM  
Anonymous kiersten said...

you should! it's soooooooooooooooo *more o's that could go on forever but i'll spare you* good. read it. all of you!

1:03 AM  
Anonymous Julia C said...

hey that sounds like fun i guess and i still don't have girl at sea cause i went to the book store last friday and i got a bunch of books, and i got 13 littleblue envelopes, and i already had to 2 hard back books, and 6 soft cover books, and it ended up being 72.86 dollars, and my mom wouldn't get me anything else cause she's mean like that. (and don't think that just because she spent 72.86 dollars on books for me makes her a nice person, because she kept me from the bookstore for like a month in hopes that depriving me of literature would increase my studying (it didn't))sry i'm babling but i do hope to get it soon!

1:16 AM  
Blogger Cassie Clare said...

Darling, I love you, but you spell my name wrong. Cassie Clare (sans I.) See, these are the sort of things you will need to know when we are married.

1:26 AM  
Anonymous Dawn said...

I LOVED this entry!!! All the pictures make me happy. Especially the ones with you and Justine. :-D I'm glad John only looked slightly puffy. Too much stress over his house might make his puff level permanent. One's hair can only take so much. Again, thanks for the pics!

2:49 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Lynn Barnes said...

I'm not sure what I laughed harder at- the pictures and captions in this entry, or Justine's response. Thanks! I'm in the middle of coding oodles and oodles of data for my psych thesis and really needed the break. :)

2:53 AM  
Anonymous katiek said...

That pigeon is ridiculously cute! And you should really come to the West Coast sometime.

5:30 AM  
Anonymous Jas said...

Two wuv is what bwings us togevvuh... I'm experiencing advanced stage YA author envy right now, even through the giddy glee of a Princess Bride reference. I so wish that I had enough stuff written that I could bombard publishers with stories (they're bound to find something in there that's kinda sorta not really interesting) so that I, too, can go hang out at author-y get-togethers. Although, spidertinis would be off-limits, 'cause my mom would kill me.
I'm a little broke right now, and I haven't had time to go to a bookstore, so I'm patiently waiting for my chance to win a book. I'm horrible with computer stuff, so I didn't even risk trying to "do something viral," 'cause I probably would have shorted out half the city (at best) or ended up advertising your novels as horrible (at worst). It wouldn't have been pretty. So, could you please do something for us peoples who aren't all technologically inclined? So I don't end up eating my own foot.
Can't wait to read it, though.

6:37 AM  
Blogger Becs said...

*gasp wheeze* i think i laughed so hard i convulsed. or something.

OMG. you and scott and justine are all promising crazy stuff like top secret news and amazing t-shirts and book giveaways and AAHHHHH!!!! how will is survive the suspense?

9:27 AM  
Blogger Becs said...

my poor little fangirl head is going to explode. john green is giving away stuff from BEA!! i think i should go to bed now, before anything else happens.... :D

"I'm not sure what I laughed harder at- the pictures and captions in this entry, or Justine's response. "

me too! hehehehe.

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Ammy said...

Oh my god. This is so damn hilarious!!! I think I died about 10 times there.

1:27 PM  
Anonymous kiersten said...

i want that pigeon. i'm jealous of your collection. :) you should have asked him to draw one on your arm. it's a shame that candy box you were sitting on didn't have giant candy in it. that would have been wicked.

5:41 PM  
Anonymous ally said...

YES! i got my card today. i love it! lol my mom rolled her eyes when she saw. shes no fun. haha the pics are hilarious!

7:04 PM  
Anonymous becca said...

Hey! I want a pigeon too! I wish I had seats like that in my room! Well I jjust finished reading Meg Cabot's blogg to and she had talked about the BEA too. Bye!

8:49 PM  
Anonymous Jessica said...

Maureen, you are officially my hero.

No, not because of the multiple spidertinis or because of the large Reeses Pieces box. But instead because of Girl at Sea.

I finished it a couple days ago, but I had already posted twice on the other blog and I didn't want you to drown in a plethora of comments.

Girl at Sea, though, just happens to be one of the most amazing books I've read in a long, long time.

Congratulations on the book and I hope to make it to one of the signings.

10:07 PM  
Anonymous Addie said...

Dang, you were at that expo too. Where was it???!!! Like all my favorite authors were there (including you). Grr.

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Gabrielle said...

You are so cool. Scott Westerfeld, John Green, Justine Larbalestier, Holly Black, the usual. Quote from you from an earlier post: "I'm jealous of myself." Boy, yeah. I think that's the kind of situation.

Justine looks very good in that last picture. I'm sure she'd be truly happy to see it. :P

3:54 AM  
Anonymous ally said...

aww no pictures today as promised
thats kind of backwards but yall get what i mean..

7:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Ello there. I just wanted to say your books sound awesome...I've never heard of you, actually, untill today. I'm on an RPG site and a lot of the members, me included, are fans of Rent...and in Rent, there's a character named Maureen Johnson. :P And, in the C-Box of the site, a member meantioned there was a teen writer named Maureen Johnsen whose book was being banned for having two lesbians in it. Reading your blog you DO kinda make me think of Maureen…she’s one of my favorite characters, so, that’s a good thing. :)

Makes me mad your book's being banned, isn't this supposed to be a free country? I'm more pissed at the fact no one can see the book is just about love..I read the summary of it just now, and it looked cool. So, did all your other books. Next time when I go to Barne's And Noble...I'll look for your books. :)

9:26 PM  

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