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At last, we have our THURSDAY NEXT signed!
Now, to our field trip…
Austin — north west — confusing directions (Google Maps does its best, but it would really help if the streets actually had their names up!) WHERE is MOPAC? but we found the Barnes & Noble eventually and arrived only five minutes late for Jasper Fforde on Friday night. It was hot and steamy, outside and in the store, especially up in the alcove where Jasper was talking about THURSDAY NEXT First Among Sequels to a crowd of about 150. I know, I counted to 150 then got bored. It wasn’t as if I could actually see him being stuck in the walled off video/music section with the usual assortment of “small children” wandering through complete with skateboards obstructing the view. (What WERE they looking for?) The center section of the alcove, surrounded by a “up” escalator and a “down” escalator, was PACKED with fans. You could tell by the STACKS of Fforde books they were clutching. I actually felt bad because I only brought one copy of the current book and being a polite rabid fan, did NOT bring my complete collection of the Jasper Fforde books. Silly me! The fans were double occupying chairs, leaning on posts and oddly placed book tables. A few managed to find a place to perch on the railings or on the floor. Did I mention it was CROWDED? and HOT?
But from what I could hear in the next 45 minutes, Fforde was entertaining. He told us about Swindon where they’ve honored him with streets name after his characters (not him to his dismay) and hold an annual Fforde Ffest each year. He also told us about his writing secrets which he’s been accumulating since he was told there was only four secrets to writing. His are a bit shall we say, special just for Fforde writings. We also participated in a Welsh pronunciation quiz. Always fun to try to decipher places in Wales. And people wonder why lorry drivers get lost! If you’ve read any of the Thursday Next books you’d recognize that Fforde’s talking style was very much like his writing style — stream of consciousness and fast jumps and wandering among subjects. Very charming but I especially enjoyed his love of “bad” jokes and how he actually created characters so he could tell a horrid joke or pun — forcing them into the plot at times! Suddenly it all came clearer! And let’s not forget his pride of mangling physics. Although that was one science section in college I actually got A’s in without trying too hard. Hmm….
All in all, the drive of 250 plus miles and the wait for his signature and stamp in our book (add another two hours) was worth it!