I was invited to a publisher party tonight.

I always find them so daunting. Meeting people I admire so much…tends to make you feel kind of inadequate.

But I went, because I’ve always found that I never regret it afterwards–even though I had a ton of preparations to do for tomorrow night’s trip to Malaysia and Singapore, not to mention I was quite tired because I’d done three presentations today and have two more tomorrow morning at the same school!

So I came into the publisher offices, smiled obsequiously, and grabbed a glass of perrier with a sprig of mint in it. I saw a familiar face–but being so bad with faces and names I’m not precisely sure which of my friends introduced me, but I started talking to this very tall, lithe, silver-haired gentleman. He put out his hand to shake mine and I had to tell him that I couldn’t, I’m not allowed to shake men’s hands, and he was ever so nice about it.

The music was loud. I didn’t hear his name, but somehow when I was being introduced to him he knew who I was. He asked if I’d written that lollipop book that had been on the New York Times ten best list, and I brightened and said, yes! That’s me.

So we were talking on, the music made it hard to hear, and I felt silly cocking my ear and leaning in so I could hear him properly, but I asked him what he’d worked on and he started rattling off some pretty impressive projects, including working on the Gordon Lightfoot book project. It still didn’t click who I was talking to!

I told him that I’d heard that Gordon Lightfoot was working so hard because he felt he was on borrowed time. I’m a big fan of Gordon Lightfoot! My favourite song of his is probably the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald!  It’s a haunting song and I happened to stay at a motel ages ago, in Tobermory, with my hubby, which wasn’t far from the actual wreck site!

It left an imprint on me.

Anyway, then the gentleman went on to say he’d also done the illustrations for The Name of the Tree, and suddenly my jaw dropped!

“You’re Ian Wallace!” I said.

He smiled. “Yes.”

I said, “I’m talking to Ian Wallace! I’m really talking to Ian Wallace! I LOVE your work!”

That is the book The Name of the Tree!

It’s one of the finest examples of a retold folktale you can ever find, but what really makes this book astonishing is the way Ian Wallace’s art COMPLIMENTS the tone of the story so PERFECTLY!

It’s such a coincidence! I’d just been thinking that I needed to buy more copies! I’d given away the half dozen that I’d purchased.

This might sound like an out of proportion type of reaction, but I guess we all have people we look up to. I’d never met Ian Wallace before.

And I’d ALWAYS ALWAYS admired his work!

I asked him how he’d decided to use such a stipple effect on his illustrations of Name of the Tree and even though I’m no artist, I listened as he explained. Fascinating!

Pretty soon another illuminary joined us: Marie Louise Gay. She’s written the Stella and Sam  books. I first read her book Fat Charlie’s Circus  and immediately fell in love with her style!

She’s one of those rare people who can do BOTH the art and the story!

So I’m standing there and after I’d picked my jaw up off the floor, I actually was able to carry on a conversation with both these fine people, without feeling like a complete idiot.


I’ve come a long way baby! *g*

I even felt like I held my own in the conversation.

Later I caught up with some other old friends of mine! And I met a new acquaintance Laurel Croza.

In total I probably had about four interesting conversations within the space of two hours!

Not bad!

And then on the way down in the elevator, this lady said it was such a nice party! She said that normally she aimed for two really good conversations. She said that if she had two good conversations she felt good about attending! With this party she’d come away with five!

I thought, well, I’d come away with four good conversations, definitely worth my time!

I’m still starry eyed!

Ian Wallace!