This week, I'm taking a road trip to Nebraska. I'll be at the Millard Branch of the Omaha Public Library this Wednesday (October 23rd) with Gayle Forman and Rainbow Rowell.
I'm so giddy! They're such smart, thoughtful, talented women (good gravy, are they talented), and the three of us have such similar/overlapping readerships. It'll be a great evening. We'll be talking about "Coming of Age, Falling in Love: Teen Love Stories and Why They Matter to Us All," and a book signing will follow. The event is free. The doors open at 6 p.m., and the event itself starts at 7 p.m. Further details are here on the library's website.
I've been superlucky, because I've already gotten to hang out with them this year—oddly enough, both times in Portland, Oregon. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of myself with Rainbow. (Rainbow, we have to fix this!) But Gayle and I had this series of cute photographs taken together two weeks ago by Andie Petkus Photography in Wordstock's official Red Chair:
I love Gayle.
And look how close our hair colors are right now! I'm almost all natural again. The strawberry-blonde-ish tips are the last remaining hold out. The tips aren't dyed; they're simply the fade from last year's bright candy red.
(Yes. There was a natural red underneath the fake red.)
I still can't believe how lucky I got with this growing-out stage. I thought I'd have horrible clown hair for at least a year, but it's faded so nicely that most people think it was dyed like this on purpose. The hair gods have been kind, indeed. I feel like I should place a gift of thanks on their altar.
What does one give the hair gods? Bottles of Aveda gel? Rhinestone barrettes?
A lot of readers have asked me why I'm no longer dying my hair blue or bright red. The answer, of course, is complicated. The biggest reason is that after five years of bleaching, my hair—which is already dry and brittle—had enough. My waves and curls were gone. There was zero shine or luster. My hair needed a rest.
I was also tired of having to lug around my own towels and pillowcases when I traveled. Oh, how those dyes bled!
And. Well. I've been writing inside the head of a natural redhead for the last two years—Isla Martin, of course—and whenever I'm that close to a character, frankly, I begin to imitate them. Or they imitate me. I'm never quite sure where one of us begins and the other ends. But we're definitely connected.
I'm not sure how long I'll remain natural. Probably for a while. Maybe until I'm grey. The thing with me is that the moment people start to assume something—"Oh, she's the author with the colorful hair," "Oh, she's the author who writes contemporary romance"—I'm likely to run (not walk, run) in the opposite direction. My chest gets tight and constricted. My mind challenges an imaginary crowd. "So you like that, do you? Well, how about this? How do you like me now?!"
Admittedly, it's kind of exhausting. But I've been this way for as long as I can remember. And I wouldn't change it.
So. GAYLE. Omaha isn't our only event together this autumn!
This picture was taken last November at YALLFest in Charleston, South Carolina. Gayle and I will both be returning for the festivities, and we're adding an additional event in Georgia right before it!
November 7th: Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA. Gayle and I will be signing books and discussing "What Is Love, Anyway? Teens, Romance, & Transformation." Free for everyone. Starts at 7 p.m.
November 9th: YALLFest in Charleston, SC. This all-day event features over fifty (!!!) YA authors. It's free, and there's lot more information on their website.
I hope that some of you fellow Southerners can make it. Next year, it looks like I might have some winter events in a few new (to me) states—Virginia and Maryland. I'll keep you posted!