Last week, before the conference, I went to get a tricorn hat from the costume shop at the Hale Center Theater. The costumers had other plans. Two hours after requesting the hat, I looked like this:
Tights, knickers, puffy shirt, vest, greatcoat, boots and neckerchief. All I wanted was the hat.
I nearly chickened out. But once my publisher found out I had a costume, they insisted. I bit the bullet. I wore this thing ALL DAY on Saturday. I had to give a few speeches in this getup. One of them was at an outdoor restaurant in Downtown Disney. It was very hot, but weirdly comfortable. Me and Tom Angleberger (author of the Origami Yoda books) wandered around Downtown Disney--he was wearing a pink cowgirl hat and vest. We didn't look out of place at all.
Two bizarre things happened with this outfit. First of all, I kept noticing people on the expo floor who would dodge out of my way, avoiding all eye contact--practically running from me. I found out the next day that there were Scientology recruiters dressed in very similar outfits. Wonderful.
Second--and here's where the controversy comes in--I spoke at a scheduled meeting called "Book Buzz." Each publisher had an hour-long slot to promote their new line of books in a theater space. Each author had to give a five minute speech about his or her new book. I was in the Abrams presentation, so I got to see a lot of fun speeches. When it was my turn I spoke about the basic plot lines of the Hazardous Tales series and showed some slides of the interior artwork.
At the mid-point of my speech, I had worked out a joke involving the trailer for the movie Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter--and how stupid it was. My point was that Abraham Lincoln is fascinating--far too interesting for something as dumb and played out as vampires. I talked about Lincoln's role in the Civil War Naval blockade--the topic covered in Big Bad Ironclad. And then pounded my fist and shouted, "NO VAMPIRES!" My final joke was something along the lines of, "We must learn from the past, otherwise we are doomed to watch stupid vampire movies." It got a decent laugh. Nothing show-stopping, but people seemed to enjoy it.
All in all, I felt pretty good about my speech.
Afterwards, I was talking with the other authors and Michael Buckley (Sisters Grimm, NERDS) happily informed me that the Executive Producer of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter had been sitting in the audience. Awesome.
It didn't occur to me until later (after I had told the Executive Producer story during several other speeches--the story got more laughs than the original vampire joke) that the whole thing might have been a prank cooked up by Michael Buckley. Dan Santat and Tom Angleberger may have been in on it too. A group of merry pranksters, having a laugh at the new guy in the George Washington suit. Can you blame them?
I mean, why on earth would the Executive Producer of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter be at the Book Buzz theater at ALA?
What do you think? Did I embarrass myself by falling for a prank, or by insulting a powerful Hollywood mogul? Either way, I did embarrass myself--and in a sweaty George Washington suit.
That picture is me, moments before the speeches began. If only I could go back in time and NOT bring up vampires.
We're going to get to the bottom of this.