Here is a sketchbook drawing of the Handley Library in Winchester, Virginia.*
The Handley is a beautiful, well thought-out building with a lot of little details that hit home for me and just the spooky kind of historicity that I love. There are spiral staircases galore—skinny cast iron ones, and wide wooden ones that twist up into the dome. There’s also a sort of low-ceilinged middle level that you can’t quite get to, but the old shelves and 1960s slatted halogen tube lights are so exactly like the ones from the old Wells library of my childhood that it sent shivers down my spine.
Anyway, all this is just a preamble on the way to saying that next Saturday (October 23rd) I will be engaging in my first in-person event in 2 and a half years (the last one being a SCBWI event in Kansas City). This event, courtesy of the Winchester Book Gallery, will be held in the Handley library’s beautiful subterranean auditorium (complete with a secret hatch on the stage that leads to a ladder that goes down into a huge cistern).
I’m a little bit nervous, though, truth to tell.
And it’s not just Covid. (Though it is that, too. If you’re thinking of coming please do read the guidelines).
When Ida died I was only a week away from heading out on a big tour to promote Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl. It wasn’t long after that the pandemic began. And I was grateful, in a way, for the long hiatus from traveling and speaking, because for a long time seeing new people in that context was …unthinkable. Sure there have been virtual events but with those I am still ensconced in the safety of my studio.
But recently I’ve been thinking about it again—the books signings and conventions. I’ve been thinking about those days when I would sling my battered old duffle on my shoulder (the same, stalwart adventure bag I’ve used since high school!) and head out into the tumult of travel toward some new horizon. Sometimes, lately, I put on a jacket and throw that bag over my shoulder and look in the mirror and think “this is what I would wear if I were traveling.”
I’m not traveling yet.
The Handley Library is my own back yard, really, so it’s not “traveling.” But it’s a toe dipped back into the pool. And as much as I’m nervous, I’m also looking forward to it.
Maybe I’ll see you there.
*okay clearly I am developing a bit of a love-affair with asterisk'd footnotes… I started this library sketch directly across the street at an outdoor table at Tropical Island Cafe, which is run by a Jamaican family and serves the best jerk chicken and plantains. It’s got a real kick and will get you sweating.