I met Christine Sneed today. She’s the author of a fantastic short story collection called “Portraits of a Few of the People I’ve Made Cry.” It was part of our assigned reading for Advanced Fiction Writing, and after three weeks of discussing the stories and bemoaning insecure characters and cheering on free indirect style and wondering about the effects of first versus third person narration, we got to meet our author and have our questions answered.
The monitor was set up in the depths of the Humanities Fine Arts building, in a small concrete-block classroom with half-finished One Act sets jammed into its corners. Tables were set up in front of the screen, and microphones were taped strategically along the tabletops. It was good, really, that my professor had the media services guy set everything up. How many English majors does it take to program a computer? I don’t know; I’m too fascinated with the delicate prose of the manual to bother with the actual machine.
A few minutes after 1 pm, and there she was. Christine Sneed was logged on to Skype, and would be taking our call. Her face appeared, large and smiling on the screen. She looked like the picture on the back flap of her book. It’s funny, but I always had a notion that authors don’t look like their photos; like they’re too mysterious, too above it all to be contained in the snap of a shutter.
For the next hour, Christine fielded our questions about the book, about writing, and about getting published. She answered each one graciously and thoroughly, explaining every possible avenue, although I suppose she had heard the questions a dozen times before.
She would pause to take swigs of Coke Zero.
It’s too bad, really, because regular Coke is so much better.
Overall, it was a fun experience. I appreciate my prof setting up the Skype date, and urging us to not only do our class assignments, but to consider what the life of a writer is like, and what amount of work and thought goes into the things we read.
The only thing that bothers me is that I didn’t get to ask a question! Everyone was given a chance to, but all four of my questions were asked by other people before it was my turn, and though I spent the rest of the period trying to think of more, I never did. I didn’t suppose a question about her breakfast cereal preferences would have been appropriate.
In other news, my intramural volleyball team won two games tonight. We are now 2-0. Thank you very much.