Coming Back to My Childhood Bookstore as an Author
When I was a kid, my local bookstore and public library were my sanctuaries. Whatever problems I'd had at school, I could walk into one of those two places and immediately feel at ease. For me, that was the Willow Glen Library, and Hicklebee's Childrens Books. They had all my favorite authors, from James Howe, to Carolyn Keene, to Lois Duncan. They had a bathtub filled with pillows where a kid could read without being bothered. It was basically heaven.
I went to many author events there over the years, but my favorite was James Howe. I'd recently read Howliday Inn and wanted desperately to get it signed. On our way to the bookstore for the event, the Loma Prieta Earthquake in '89 struck. Fortunately I was able to meet Mr. Howe later and get my book signed--one of my prized possessions. I thought to myself: "what would it be like to see my book on the shelf here?"
Well, thirty plus years later, here I am! I had the pleasure and the honor of coming back to my childhood bookstore--the place that had made me feel seen and accepted for my difficult childhood years--as an author. Hicklebee's set up several local school visits and I was able to talk to kids who may have been like me: shy, scared, and eager for more books. Sitting in the same corner that James Howe sat while I awaited my signed book, I felt like things had truly come full circle.
Then, I got to sign the author wall! If you've ever been to Hicklebee's, you know that the walls are adorned with signatures, quotations and illustrations from authors. I had the honor of signing near some of my heroes-- Kelly Yang and Kate Messner!
If you're ever in San Jose, please support your local bookstore and come to Hicklebee's. As a kid, it was really hard for me to live in the real world. Books were not only my escape, but my anchor. Hicklebee's was a huge part of what got me through those years. With their helpful nature, and that amazing bathtub-turned reading nook, I truly found a safe space in my local bookstore.