by | Jul 10, 2024 | Tosca Lee | 4 comments

By Tosca Lee

I came back from ThrillerFest just a few weeks ago and while I was there to teach at CraftFest, panel, sign books and present awards, let’s be real… I was also there to fangirl.

That’s possibly the coolest part of this writing gig, getting to go where the heroes are, get books signed, and take home a picture with said hero author like a trophy … after acting like the most awkward nutjob in the world, of course, which I’m convinced is part of the process.

With that in mind, here are my requirements for acting as awkward as possible while meeting literary heroes:

  • Speak in incoherent, incomplete sentences. Extra points if you hyperventilate.  
  • Have one of your false eyelashes fall off while you’re talking. Pretend it doesn’t look like a spider holding on for dear life.
  • Try to shake the hand of said literary hero while it’s in a cast. Yup. I did that. Sorry, Karin Slaughter.

  • Ask for a picture together. Wonder afterwards if you’re wearing deodorant. And why your smile looks like a grimace and you have no teeth
  • Mention some obscure fact you learned about them from scouring the internet like a weirdo stalker
  • When they ask who to sign the book to, forget how to spell your name. Or what your name is.

I know there are others but I’d like to think I’ve blocked them out. And never once has one of them been anything but gracious.*

Fun fangirl moments through the years:

Heather Graham, who gave me socks when I mentioned I forgot mine in the midst of some word salad I was spewing and who has hugged me kindly every time we’ve seen one another since. C.J. Box, Tess Gerritsen, James Rollins, Karin Slaughter, James Patterson–All of whom were kind and welcoming and didn’t back away slowly despite whatever stupid thing I said.

*Speaking of fangirling, I recently told a legendary editor that I was fangirling the entire time I listened to his lunchtime talk at CraftFest. Only on receiving his kind response did I note that auto-correct had changed “fangirling” in my email to him to “fingerling.”

Tosca Lee is a New York Times bestselling author of twelve novels including The Long March Home (May 2023, coauthored by Marcus Brotherton), The Line BetweenThe ProgenyIscariot, and The Legend of Sheba. Her work has been translated into seventeen languages and optioned for TV and film. She is the recipient of two International Book Awards, Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion, ECPA Fiction Book of the Year, and the Nebraska Book Award. Her work has finaled for the High Plains Book Award, the Library of Virginia Reader’s Choice Award, the Christy Award, and a second ECPA Book of the Year, among others. Lee earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Smith College. A former first runner-up to Mrs. United States, she lives in Nebraska with her husband and two of four children still at home.

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  1. Lisa Black

    Oh yes. Meeting John Lescroat at the Algonquin (one of the first ITW meetings, before there even was a Thrillerfest), I was so excited that while reaching out to shake his hand I knocked the swizzle stick out of my drink and into his jacket.

  2. Karna Small Bodman

    For sure! I remember all the times I attended Thrilerfest and tried to cozy up to some of my favorite authors. However, I will say that after meeting several of them, later they offered me blurbs for new novels including the most gracious Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen, John Lescroart, among others. I find that the best-know authors are the nicest!!!

  3. Tracy Clark

    Ah, those fangirl moments. We’ve all had ’em. I had one a couple weeks ago. At least we’re well adjusted fangirls, Tosca. Not like that whackadoodle chick from “Misery.”

  4. Chris

    LOL. I’m always making a fool of myself. Glad to know I’m not alone!

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