I stepped through the door of the HarperCollins building and gave my name to a guard at the front desk. She checked some information on a computer screen and printed out a visitor’s sticker for me. “Put it here,” she said, indicating a spot near my shoulder. Attaching something gooey to my brand new shirt just wasn’t going to happen. I smiled innocently at her and stuck it to the side of my handbag.
A few minutes later a pretty dark-haired woman wearing cute bookish glasses and a flared skirt stepped through the security gate and stood in front of me. It was my editor, Tara Weikum. After four phone conversations and dozens of emails, I was finally meeting her in the flesh.
I got ready to shake her hand, but instead she gave me a hug. I couldn’t help but smiling. In France I never know how many kisses to give. Now, in my own country I was having the same greeting-etiquette confusion.
Tara took me to a cafe across the street, where we sipped coffees and got acquainted, which felt like going about things backwards since we had been communicating since November. I mentioned how weird that was, but she said that after working on the book together she felt she already knew me.
I’ve heard that a lot, after blogging about my life for the last five years. I start telling someone a story, and the say, “Oh yeah, I read about that on your blog. I feel like I already know you so well.” “Aha!” I want to say, “You only know the parts that I write about, which doesn’t even cover the tip of the iceberg!” But I never actually say it, because then I’d have to reveal more than I wanted or else come across as annoyingly mysterious.
Back to the story. I managed learn a bit about Tara, but left wishing I knew more. My usual curiosity about people’s stories was in this case left unquenched. But living in France, where asking personal questions is considered prying, I seem to have lost the chutzpah it takes to dig for more info.
Then we talked about what was to come during the next year – up until the publication of Die For Me: the copyediting, cover art, galley copies, and all that. I wanted to know for my deadline for Book 2, and she asked if end-October would work. I said, “Sure!” unwilling to embarrass myself by counting on my fingers how many months that was. (Later, when I did, I just about fainted.) I told her what I had in mind for Book 2, and she smiled, nodding as she listened and giving her input only when I pushed for it, like the wonderfully supportive editor she is.
Finally, she said it was time to go back. We returned to the building, dumped my bag in her office, picked up her colleague Melissa, and headed up a few floors to a very corporate-looking boardroom.
The last time I had been in that official-looking of a boardroom was soon after I moved to New York in the late 90s. While trying to start my own business during the day, I worked nights at a chi-chi law firm. I would sneak in after the lawyers’ meetings and gorge myself on what was left of the expensive cookie-and-fruit trays, before spending the rest of the evening faxing legal documents to England.
Now Tara was motioning for me to sit at the head of the enormous table, just beside an untouched fruit-and-cookie tray that had been specially ordered for my very own meeting. The irony was not lost on me. I was glad I was wearing my sparkly Converses. They were the only things holding me down to earth. [To be continued…]