Sunday, November 16, 2008

I'm An Old Meany May Be The Real Reason

I had a wonderful time on Friday, visiting the middle and high school students in Pierce City, Missouri. Mrs. Corbett was in charge, and she did a great job.

There was any number of things that made my trip special. Four of the high school students enacted a scene from the dead and the gone (the girl who played Bri coughed so convincingly that even I worried about her health). There was an extraordinary box of every kind of brownie you might ever dream of waiting for me at the hotel. Some of the students prepared a complete and sumptuous Thanksgiving dinner for lunch on Friday. And I was given a Pierce City High School Book Club tee shirt.

The students asked excellent questions, not a bad one in the bunch. One of the classes of middle school students was particularly interested in why I did various things in Life As We Knew It. Why did Megan die? Why did Mrs. Nesbitt die? Why did Peter die?

You would think that since I got 10 out of 10 answers correct on the internet LAWKI quiz, and since I spent the time on the flight to Springfield, MO rereading LAWKI in preparation for writing the third book (still in need of a nickname), I would know why all those characters died. But I had to think about it. Megan was so that someone Miranda's age would die. Mrs. Nesbitt died because of her age; it just made sense that she would.

But as best I could figure out, Peter died simply because he'd served his purpose. He brought news of the outside world to Miranda and her family. The news was always bad, but at least it was a connection. And I didn't want him around to provide medical assistance when Miranda's family needed it the most.

I like Peter. What a shame he turned out to be a plot device.

I really liked LAWKI as I reread it. I'd still change the first and last sentences if I could, but I'd pretty much keep the rest as is. It's funny the way things date unexpectedly. Since Mom expressed her distaste for Fox News, most likely she'd approve of the incoming president and not call him an evil jerk (which turns out to be such a Sarah Palin thing to say).

There wasn't much that surprised me as I read (it's been almost two years since I really looked at LAWKI, but I used to reread it all the time, so I know it pretty well). The parts about Horton the cat made me sad though. There was one throwaway bit of business about Horton sniffing Miranda's face to confirm it really was her that almost got me crying. Emily my cat used to do that.

I want a cat so much it hurts. But I can't figure out if I want a cat or if I just miss Alexander and Emily. Cats have their own personalities, and even if I get one, it will be different from them.

No matter what, I won't even think about getting a cat before next week, because this week I go to Texas. What remain of my brain cells are engaged in trying to figure out what clothes to take. I'll be doing a school visit on Thursday, then NCTE on Friday- a panel discussion and autographing, followed by a small, very high class, dinner in my honor, cohosted by Harcourt and Random House (the latter being the publishers of the LAWKI/d&g audiobooks). In addition, it's supposed to be 37 degrees in New York on Wednesday, and 70 degrees in Texas on Thursday.

Not that I want it to be 37 degrees in Texas. But 70 in New York might make things easier.

So that's where things are right now. The next couple of days will be devoted to running errands, packing and repacking. Life as I know it is complex indeed!


Mrs. Corbett said...

Well, MY Friday was the best ever. If any librarians or teachers out there are thinking of bringing Susan Beth Pfeffer to your school--do it!
The whole school was abuzz with fantastic feedback before the day was a fourth over.
I was there for every session, and no one wanted any session to end.(including our visiting author--she was tireless!)
I don't have to tell any regulars here that Ms. Pfeffer's wit is amazing. Well, she can adjust her wit easily for whatever the age level. Whether 6th graders, high schoolers or teachers, she had us totally entertained AND thinking!

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

maybe ThiWWLI as a nickname? or something like that? "thew-lee"

Anonymous said...

Susan Pfeffer thanks for coming to our school and me and my friend have been dieing to ask you...when is is your book Twilly coming out?? And yes we do go to Pierce City! And yes we were in the book club to meet you!

Stephanie said...

Oh you're going to be in Texas?? It makes me happy to think we'll be in the same state. :)

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi to Mrs. Corbett and to Caylee-

Thanks for your kinds words. I had such a good time visiting Pierce City Middle School and High School. Go Eagles Go!

Twilly (soon to be called by a different nickname) is scheduled, very tentatively, for a spring 2010publication. At least it was the last time I asked my editor, and I haven't asked since, for fear she'll tell me something different.

But whenever it does, I'll have my Pierce City Book Club tee shirt to wear in honor of the occasion.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Anonymous-

Thank you for your nickname suggestion. I think I have this nickname business licked, and will blog almost immediately to make the announcement (only in my world would this constitute an announcement!).

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Texas Pixie-

I'll be in Texas Wednesday night. I'll be certain to look for pixies to see if I can spot you!

Anonymous said...

My students are still excited by your visit to our school. Your sense of humor, your plot details, and personal writing techniques still have them talking! Thank you so much for visiting with us. My son, the big kid taking your picture, even thanked me over the weekend for suggesting your work and inviting him to attend your book discussion. You are positively delightful! Enjoy your time at NCTE.

Mrs. Cholley

Anonymous said...

Be certain to visit the bakery in the Mercado in San Antonio, and to put a dollar in St. Anthony's hand -- statue along the Riverwalk.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Belated hellos and good mornings to Debbie Cholley and Anonymous-

I really enjoyed my time, both in Pierce City and in San Antonio, the past couple of weeks. I was too busy to do much sightseeing in either place, but (fortunately for me) sometimes work can be as much fun as vacationing.

But with two trips in two weeks, I have a lot of catchup to do at home, especially if I want to start B3 on Monday (Monday! Gack!!!). So I apologize for not having answered your comments sooner. I really appreciated both of them.