There is something incredibly magical that happens when you read about your hometown in a book. Especially when your hometown is a small city in Southwestern Ontario that most people have never heard of. Especially when the person writing about your hometown is your favourite writer. And is internationally renowned. And happens to live in your hometown. It’s pretty fucking cool.
My favourite writer is Emma Donoghue. If you don’t recognize her name you’ve probably heard about her book ROOM, written from the view point of a small child. And if you haven’t read her work, you should. Really.
I was first introduced to her work when I was a teenager. A very special English teacher lent me her copy of Stir-Fry and it may or may not have been life-altering. Shortly after I had returned it, she surprised me by having it signed and giving it to me to keep. That book has been read so many times, the cover is almost falling off. I had to buy a second copy so I could keep reading it without ruining what has become one of my most prized possessions. Later that year, I attended a reading by Ann-Marie MacDonald (who also writes about my hometown, BTW) with that same teacher and Emma Donoghue was there to introduce her. That was the night I found out that my favourite teacher and my new favourite writer were actually neighbours and I was introduced to Emma Donoghue.
I was absolutely star-struck and all I could muster the courage to say was, “Holy crap, it’s so nice to meet you.” I shook her hand and then just stared nervously like the incredibly awkward teenager I was.
Sadly, that level of awkwardness took years to dissipate (and really has only gotten marginally better in my adulthood) so when I had the opportunity to meet Emma Donoghue for a second time, (this time for a sit down coffee and everything!) the exchange went about the same. But that’s a story for another day. Like, maybe tomorrow.