Eleven years ago, just a few weeks after our wedding, my wife and I drove from California to Wyoming, where we lived for six months. Along the way, we made many sightseeing stops. Utah had so many beautiful areas, I always wanted to spend more time there. So when English teacher Cassie Cox asked me to speak at her school, I immediately said "Yes!"
Two years later, we finally found a time that worked for both of us. I was Utah bound!
When people think of the Salt Lake City area, they often think of Temple Square. And on my last day, I did visit there.
But on my first day, within minutes of arriving, I saw this...
...and knew it was going to be a unique author visit!
Eleven years ago, one of the towns I thought looked so beautiful was named (appropriately) Eden. When Ms. Cox asked me what I'd like to do in my free time, I mentioned stopping in Eden for dinner. I knew YA author Wendy Toliver lived there and suggested that maybe she'd be want to join us. Well, Ms. Cox was a friend of hers, and I was soon invited to Ms. Toliver's home for dinner! Joining us were local teachers, librarians, spouses, and...Sara Zarr!
Cassie Cox, Sara Zarr, me, Wendy Toliver
We discussed books, censorship (after all, it was Banned Books Week), and Utah's very unique qualities. It was a wonderful and delicious (Ms. Toliver can write and cook!) start to my author visit.
The next morning, I spoke at two high schools in Ogden. The first school, Two Rivers, let me know I was in the right place once I arrived.
After my presentation, several students from Two Rivers were driven by their principal to another high school, Bonneville, where we joined even more students for lunch in the library.
This catered lunch, apparently, was nothing like what the other students were being served in the cafeteria. (Which is why you should always eat in the library!) While we ate, a PowerPoint ran on a couple of screens with thirteen quotes from students about my visit.
That evening, I joined several people at a delicious Italian restaurant, Zucca Trattoria. Check out the last line of their Specials board!
At dinner, Ms, Cox and I were joined by the librarian from Bonneville High, two teacher's aides, and Courtney Alameda. Ms. Alameda is a librarian whose debut teen novel comes out in 2014. And I can't wait to read Shutter! (And I'm not just saying that so maybe I can possibly receive an early copy. But...maybe? Possibly?)
The next day, I spoke at the kick-off of the Utah Humanities Book Festival. The main Salt Lake City Public Library is one of the most stunning libraries I've seen, and I checked it out a bit to work off the nerves that always come as I wait to speak.
But I had nothing to worry about. High school senior Kylee Carlin gave me such a great introduction, even I couldn't wait to hear what I had to say!
When I was done signing books, I got to sit in the audience and hear Kate DiCamillo speak.
I had to leave before getting the chance to personally meet Ms. DiCamillo, but her reading and Q&A was very entertaining. And the next time we're both in the SLC area, I suggest we all have dinner at Wendy Toliver's house!