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Friday, March 20, 2009


The great thing about going away to write in a castle with nine other writers—if you are me—is that they can be counted on to blog about it while you sit in a corner and finish your book and eat things you find on the floor, whether or not they are food.

You might, if you are me, Twitter a little when the castle internet decides to work. (I am turning into a Twitter fanatic! It quiets the hamsters in my mind.)

But anyway, just yesterday I finished SCARLETT FEVER, the sequel to Suite Scarlett. And just in time, too, because I have lots to do to get ready for the paperback release of Suite Scarlett on May 1st! But I should really talk a little bit about the castle.

BUT BEFORE I DO! I must tell you where you can SEE ME this week, at the TEEN LIT FESTIVAL in NYC!

Tomorrow! Friday, March 20: “I love you, New York” Teen Lit in the City. Speaking with Coe Booth, Paul Griffin, David Levithan, Cecily von Ziegesar, and Rita Williams-Garcia.

The New York Public Library, South Court Auditorium, 42nd St and 5th Ave, NY NY, 6-8 pm

Saturday: I will be at the New York Public Library’s Stuff for the Teen Age event. (Suite Scarlett made the list of 100 awesome things!)

Sunday: I will be at the BIGGEST YA AUTHOR SIGNING EVER! 4pm! Books of Wonder! BE THERE!


Now, if you’ve read any of the other accounts by Holly Black, Cassie Clare, Carrie Ryan, Sarah Cross, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Sarah Rees Brennan, Ally Carter, Diana Peterfreund, or Robin Wasserman, you might be pretty up to speed. You might also notice, if you looked at the pictures, that I am not generally in them. That was because I was sitting in the writing room more or less the entire time, finishing the aforementioned book and eating the aforementioned things off the floor.

But I was there! And this is how the trip went for me.

First, I was coming from London, which means that I had one of the shortest trips to make. It takes about 50 minutes to get from London to Dublin on a plane. Once at the Dublin airport, I was supposed to meet Robin Wasserman, who had scheduled to come in on a plane from Paris just fifteen minutes before me. From there, we had booked a fine hotel in Dublin—in fact, our hotel was so fine, it was listed as a TOURIST ATTRACTION. We were smug about our plan.

For some reason, I had decided that the only suitcase suitable for this trip was the REALLY BIG ONE. I usually do not bring the REALLY BIG ONE when I go to the UK because it does not fit into Oscar’s car. Oscar has a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny car. It is a sportscar. It has two seats and no trunk and no backseat. I bought a MUCH SMALLER SUITCASE to go in this car.

But Oscar offered to take me to Gatwick early in the morning. So the night before, we did a trial run to see if the really big suitcase could actually fit. I got in the car, and the massive suitcase was shoved on top of me. It created a wall that split the car in two, and I couldn’t see Oscar or out of the windshield, and Oscar had some trouble shifting, but we figured it would work.

So that morning, I was stuffed into the car with the really big suitcase and rode alone to Gatwick unable to hear or see a thing. I got to the airport extremely early. Exactly thirty minutes before my flight was scheduled to board, I had a well-timed breakfast, a look at my e-mail, bought my in-flight coffee, and went to look for my gate.

I was puzzled as the screens changed, because it LOOKED like what they said was: BRITISH AIRWAYS, 10:15 FLIGHT TO DUBLIN, CANCELED.

I laughed. I was seeing things.

Except that I wasn’t. There was one British Airways flight canceled that morning, and that was the 10:15 to Dublin. British Air didn’t really have any good reasons for the lack of an airplane. I showed them my actual, quite real ticket, and they approved of it highly, and got a little vague when I asked them how I was supposed to get to Ireland. I had visions of things going much like they had just two weeks before, when I bought an actual, real ticket to go to Denver, and United Airlines decided to send me to Tulsa instead.


What British Air decided to do was make us all walk to the South Terminal, stand in a bunch of lines, and eventually put me on a flight much later in the day leaving from a different airport. So they gave me a coach ticket to that airport, and a voucher worth ten pounds to buy food.

“Can I use this at Heathrow?” I asked. “I mean, I’m going to be there for hours.”

“No,” she said. “You can only use this here, and you can only use it today.”

I reached over and took my two pieces of paper and examined them.

First thing first . . . I didn’t want a snack or a coffee, but this little voucher was my . . . my prize. My thing that I got instead of a seat on a plane. So I rolled my bags over to the Costa Coffee. I stood around for a minute, seeing if there was anyone I could give it to, but no one came along. So I started buying things.

I took a smoothie. I took another bottle of water. I like to have a lot of drinks around—the problem was, I was about to go to Heathrow and go back through security, which means they would take them all away, and I ALREADY had a large bottle of water in my bag that I had purchased past security. You can only drink so much before you just explode. The three bottles I had now was already pushing it. I took them to the counter. They came to four pounds fifty. I still had much more to go. I took some chocolate wafers from the container next to the till and added them.

“How much now?” I asked.

“Five pounds ten.”

More wafers. More wafers.

“Six pounds . . . seven . . .”

“I’ll just have all the wafers,” I said.

The woman behind the counter was Italian, and I could see from the way she was looking at me that she thought that “all the wafers” was just another one of those annoying expressions in English that she would have to get used to. When in fact, “all the wafers” was just me scooping all the wafers from the container and pushing them forward. I didn’t exactly know what I was going to do with all these wafers, but they were going to be mine.

I walked out with a bag of liquids and wafers.

The ride from Gatwick to Heathrow takes about an hour, more or less, but we got stuck in massive midday traffic. I had my liquids and wafers, all the precious things I had acquired.

“These,” I said, clutching the bag, “these things are mine.”

I was also worried about Robin, who was already wandering the Dublin airport waiting for me. I had the hotel information, and she had no way of knowing where I was.

So I got to immigration in Dublin. My passport is pretty full at this point, and it shows a lot of trips between the United States and England, so the passport people sometimes (understandably) give me a bit of a hard time when they see me, and they ask me piercing questions about my life. They do this to make sure I am not doing something illegal. I am pretty good with this, because I do it a lot. This time, I was asked who I was staying with in Ireland.

And my brain was thinking, “Well, I am staying with friends, but not friends who LIVE here, well, except for Sarah Rees Brennan, SHE lives here, but she is from everywhere, and I am not staying at her house, I am staying at a castle, and if I say I am staying at a castle, they will think I am a deluded American, and what she really wants to know is if I am intending to take up some kind of RESIDENCE here with some Irish people and drain the system dry, which I am not, I am coming to write and then go home, and by home I actually mean back to England which is sort of home but not really, and she probably wants to know what I have to say for myself because she is staring at me . . .”

What came out was, “I have no Irish friends.” That is actually what I said to passport control.

So eventually I got to Dublin. Robin had made her way to the hotel and talked her way in by pretending to be me, which is apparently pretty easy. (Because for the next 24 hours, the staff referred to Robin as Ms. Johnson and to me as Ms. Wasserman, and even swapped our names, so she was Ms. Robin Johnson and I was Ms. Maureen Wasserman. It was very confusing.)

Robin, for some mysterious reason, had just come from Paris, and hadn’t slept in two days. I hadn’t had much sleep either. So after wandering the streets and getting some food, we decided that the most awesome thing to do would be to go back to our awesome, swanky hotel, put on pajamas, and watch Irish television. Also, we had been told that the VIP style awards were being held in our hotel that night, as a testament to its swank factor. We asked what these were, and were told that they were for “style” and for naming the “most stylish person.”

“What?” Robin asked. “You mean like when the PRINCE sends his servants to roam the land to look for the fairest maiden?”

And they said yes, something like that, but with more text voting.

So we also spent a good while speculating on that, and wondering if we should crash said awards in our pajamas. We also ate wafers.

The major discovery of that night, however, was a button on our phone that simply read: “Delighted to Serve.” It was NOT room service. It was NOT the concierge. It was some weird, other button that just promised service.

I immediately pressed it.

And THERE, I pause, because I have to go out and see TIGER BEAT, the YA band! Libba Bray is singing! I am rocking out to THAT!

I look forward to your comments/complaints/questions as always.

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Blogger Sami said...

Why the cliffhangers?

12:48 AM  
Anonymous Famous A said...

I want a bag of wafers!

12:48 AM  
Anonymous dozzzier said...

That ticket is totally fake.


I mean, c'mon. Those airline officials are terrible at their jobs!

Granted, only someone with my mad skillz of observation would able to notice the mistake.

12:49 AM  
Anonymous darlingt said...

Yay for new blog! My Twitter plea worked! :D

12:50 AM  
Blogger Christina Hicks said...

Your misadventures with airline companies are making me a little nervous about traveling overseas this summer. Any tips from your many experiences?

Also, Tiger Beat is probably the best name for YA band ever.

12:57 AM  
OpenID xjustadoreher said...

It's amazing how you have a cliffhanger in your *blog entry.*

1:00 AM  
Blogger lkmadigan said...

Oh Gatwick.

How I loathe you.

More, please.

1:05 AM  
Anonymous Paula said...

you have terrible airplane luck! did the hamster king have anything to do with this? or was it that United Airlines ticket agent who thought we were the luckiest people on earth because she was sending us to Tulsa. Maybe she arranged for all this.

1:10 AM  
OpenID jemmafey said...

I KNOW you're recording the Tiger Beat gig so we can watch on YouTube! Ahem, ya know, I'm stuck down in backwoods GA with the rest of the peaches. No Irish peacocks, but lots of evil turkeys running amuck. Please, I must live vicariously through you. *pitiful blink blink blink*

1:14 AM  
Anonymous EmilyC said...

Awww what a typical writer. Peak my attention then cut me off. (shakes fist) gwarrr....(:

1:19 AM  
Blogger Kristy Colley said...

I liked this. Spanks.

1:35 AM  
Blogger lauren said...

A cliffhanger? Oh noes! I will be anxiously awaiting the next post! Are you going to be posting every day like you suggested on Twitter?

(On an unrelated note, my word verification is "cowls". What is that?! Some kind of strange genetic cross between cows and owls?...


1:35 AM  
Blogger squirrelyTONKS said...

way to leave a cliffhanger sheesh... i'm going to be up for all hours until the next post just wondering...

1:40 AM  
Anonymous Julie said...

I like pressing buttons too.

2:01 AM  
Anonymous Dimitra said...

Is that a quotation thingy before 'choo-choo!'?
If it is, then it lacks one on the other side.
I noticed this today in a copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban....

2:40 AM  
Blogger Kira902k said...

haaaaah "delighted to serve"
that, i must know about.

honestly, the cliffhangers are deadly.
it sucks that they didn't accept your FOR REAL'S ticket. they should have un-canceled the flight, just because you are oh-so-special.

2:41 AM  
Anonymous Dimitra said...

Whoops. never mind. there IS one. yay for quotations. Harry POtter still lacks them, though.... Will you speak to JK about this?

2:43 AM  
Blogger angela said...

oh dear. why the cliffhangers, mj? why?

well i have to say YOU my dear are "delighted to tweet."

as i go on my twitter basically 5 minutes after last tweet and find the whole page AMBUSHED with maureen johnson(that's you.)

2:58 AM  
Anonymous Caroline said...

I really want to know what happened when you pressed that button... Please update soon!

3:10 AM  
Blogger Marvelous Maggie said...

When you said, "I have no Irish friends," it reminded me of that baker guy on Bruce Almighty that says, "I work in back. I see no smiles."

You know the one I'm talking about?

Also, I'm very happy you blogged. I was becoming slightly depressed.


3:17 AM  
Blogger Meftihe said...

my verification word is sycul! That sounds like an instrument of torture. Or that could just be my current state of mind.
Maureen, I'm quarantined in my room due to chickenpox (I wont even mention how old I am, lets just say getting chicken pox at this age is too embarrassing for words) and I've been reading all your past blogs to catch up and keep myself from going insane. I've made it to march 2008 so far, which means that soon, I will be all out of blogs.
And then, I will scratch.
This cannot happen! More blogs please!
Thank you in advance.

3:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have the most amusing airport adventures. Mine are normal which is fine, I guess, since I don't really want to cause delays of have people search my body for hidden weapons or anything... but whatever.

3:44 AM  
Blogger amy said...

"Swank Factor" is my new favourite thing to say.

Unless it becomes the title of a reality tv show.

4:27 AM  
Anonymous SarahE said...

What? You can't just stop like that. It's not fair! Continue continue continue!!!!

*Eagerly awaits new blogs*

On a side note, I start to become worried about my own traveling that will be happening this summer. I will be crossing and re-crossing and backtracking the US by plane and by car several times. Also, I may fly to France. You know, just cause i feel like it. But when thinking of your traveling adventures, mj, I can't help but be very, very afraid.

(P.S. MY word verification is crosesse. I'm pretty sure that's when you play croquet with lacrosse sticks. Or possibly a very delicious type of pasta noodle. *Ponders*)

5:57 AM  
Blogger DoreMifa said...

You may not know this, but my friend Alysosome/Zaire did not post her in her blog since your last post. (actually its most likely you DO NOT know this) without YOUR blog, and without HER blog, it made for an altogether incredibly trying time. But now you are back, ergo i am happy. YOU BRIGHTENED MY EVIL TECH WEEK, MAUREEN JOHNSON!

6:34 AM  
OpenID marlee-grace said...

May 1st is my birthday! Yay!

Poor Maureen, with her bad airplane luck and lack of friends in Ireland. ):

6:51 AM  
Blogger Sandy said...

Now I REALLY want to know what happened when you pressed that button...

7:21 AM  
OpenID lijuun said...

But . . . the button . . . what does it do?

This is bad. I could very well end up sitting here staring at my computer and rocking back and forth until you post the answer. I could be here for days, with ratty hair and chewed-off fingernails in a bathrobe that will eventually smell like a really old potato. And I will go hungry, because there are not nearly enough interesting things on my floor to eat. We're not all as fortunate as you!

Never mind. I'm going to bed. Where I will probably have dreams about a mysterious button.

7:45 AM  
Blogger Callidora said...

Ohhhh, I want a "Delighted to Serve" button to push!

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait what? The Peacock Diaries? Did I just miss an explanation for that because I have no idea what that is. Care to explain?

11:00 AM  
Blogger Chloe said...

For some reason, the thing about the wafers is terribly, terribly amusing.

*gets the peacock joke* Yay! More about the amorous peacock!

1:23 PM  
OpenID talshannon said...

My fingers are crossed that the button summoned a handsome young genie with three wishes to serve up.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Bridget said...

I have a fear of pressing buttons. I try to turn the TV off, and then the screen goes grey and fuzzy and makes spitting noises at me. I pat it gently. It keeps spitting. I calmly explain my hurt feelings. It keeps spitting. Then I get my little sister to help me, because she can soothe it. Suspense kills, Ms. Maureen Wasserman.

10:57 PM  
OpenID loulabelle13 said...

Oh cruel, very cruel. You cannot leave a button unpressed! You just can't!

11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Cliffhangers are like car accidents they're only cool except for when they happen to you.

2. i am never taking you on an international flight with me because we will never come out of the country we're starting in. Why are you so cursed with airports Tango Maureen?

Hope & Cheer,
Karma <3

P.S. Break a leg Libba Bray.

1:34 AM  
Blogger Chelsea said...

I wish all plane tickets looked like that. It is much more fun than the super official-looking tickets that are still not accepted at airports. Because tickets are lies.

It sounds like you had fun. I'm glad.

4:25 AM  
Blogger A Paperback Writer said...

I can't wait to read Scarlett Fever!
And I am totally and completely jealous that you got to do a writing retreat in a castle! That has to be the ultimate working vacation.

6:28 AM  
Anonymous JK said...

I am impressed. About getting to the airport early I mean. I don't think I've ever gotten to an airport early in my life. This blog has me suddenly craving wafers.

6:21 PM  
Anonymous MIKE said...


5:12 AM  
Blogger DoreMifa said...

I realize this is not a time when you have opened up to field question. This is pressing question, however, so i care not.
I would, pretty please, like to know your favorite musics. I recall mention of Scissor Sisters whom i love lots and lots. WHAT ELSE? :)

be warned- if this question isnt answered (impatient, am i not?) i MAY have to ask on facebook also.

6:01 AM  
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