September 26, 2009

A Dream Come True: Meeting Suzanne Collins

Posted by at 8:39 am in Authors | Permalink

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Hi Ink Splot 26 Readers,

Two girls from completely different walks of life had the same desire to meet the creator of The Hunger Games (a book for ages 12 and up).

Amanda is a young girl who dreamed about meeting her favorite author, Suzanne Collins, but never thought her dream would be a reality. Thanks to Scholastic and the Make-A-Wish Foundation which grants wishes to kids with life-threatening medical conditions, Amanda got her wish.

Kayley is the winner of the Hunger Games Writing Contest, in which she answered the question, “How would you survive the Hunger Games?” (Read Kayley’s winning essay about being “the girl with the silver tongue.")

Over the summer, both girls traveled to the Scholastic headquarters where they each spent an afternoon with Suzanne.  Here are their stories in their own words.

— Nick, Scholastic Staffer

Amanda's Story

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My heart was racing as I rolled along, seemingly calm behind the bubbly and kind publicist Sheila Marie. I couldn't believe that I was finally here to meet Suzanne Collins, my idol, whose works have been my obsession for the past five years. It had been almost a year since I asked Make-A-Wish to help this dream along, but with all the confounded procedures, surgeries, and pain, I had to postpone until today. Well, anyway to the fun stuff! I was so excited and nervous at the same time that I felt I was being pushed on a conveyor belt to something I wasn't quite prepared for, but was eager to see all the same. I found myself uttering the words "help, mommy help" in a voice resembling Minnie Mouse with a severe sore throat. It didn't seem real, like someone fantasizing about the stereotypical life—new Mustang, high-paying job, mansion, and that drop-dead gorgeous husband deal—but never believing they could get it. Well I was getting it and I couldn't believe it.

My experience with Suzanne Collins was absolutely breathtaking. As soon as I spoke with her, my nervousness melted away. Despite the lights, cameras and teleprompters, she made me feel at home during the video shoot. She was so sweet and said that she was afraid that she was going to be a boring wish. My first thoughts were, "I'm honored just to be within ten feet of you, and you're nervous about being my wish! Man, is she nice!" She was getting her makeup done so I was afraid of disturbing her, but she assured me that I could talk. To my amazement, I could speak calmly as if I were talking to a friend, not my idol whose writings have consumed my mind and heart ever since I read her first book. She even hugged me. Oh my God! Did Suzanne Collins actually hug me!? She touched me! The creator of Gregor the Overlander, Katniss the clever, Ripred the obnoxious, actually touched me and is smiling at me, this inconsequential nothing. Then they asked if I would mind being in a video shoot with her. Would I mind? I have spent the last five years rounding up, forcing, hounding, and pounding people to read these books! While my mother was reading the book in her room I would sit at the door waiting to hear her laugh and then say, "What was so funny? What part are you at?” I was ridiculous, annoying and relentless. My mom called me a “Gregor stalker.” And now they were asking me if I would like to do a video shoot with the woman who started it all, creating the little book monster also known as me. Of course I wouldn't mind! Then she asked me if we should say "Happy birthday Scholastic." Trying to be as polite as possible, I suggested that we say "Happy birthday Scholastic. Fly you high!" During the shoot she let me hold her sword. She likes swords! I'm crazy about them! We have something in common! I wonder if she has a three-sided one like Luxa talks about in Gregor the Overlander. Oh my God, I get to go and talk to her now! I think I'm having a panic attack! 

Here is the amazing thing. This beautiful lady went out of her way to get her favorite books for me (because reading is the start of writing), along with a few personal items that are now treasures in my eyes. She had piled up a world of keepsakes for me. It was unbelievable! We talked about writing techniques, and she shared some of her most useful secrets. We were originally allotted one hour to talk by ourselves. Well, that hour went completely out the window. I spent close to six hours with Suzanne and I loved every minute of it. I felt completely and utterly at ease with this woman that I idolized. It was a dream come true and I am happy to say that I miss Suzanne, not only as a fan but as a friend as well, and I thank everyone involved for bringing us together.

Kayley's Story

It’s hard to put into words just how brilliant my experience at the Scholastic headquarters was. From making Hunger Games twitter jokes, to David Levithan’s thoughts on the pairing of Haymitch and Katniss, it was a day that I will never forget. Promptly upon arrival, my mother and I were met in the reception area by Adrienne Vrettos, the lovely woman we had been in constant communication with since I won the contest which brought me over 3,000 miles to New York City. We were taken to the roof of the building where Suzanne Collins was being photographed for a newspaper article, and I joined her in a few of those before we went down to one of the coolest rooms I have ever entered. On the walls were large pictures from tons of books that I had grown up reading and loving. The Wild Things, Harry Potter and Winnie the Pooh were among the illustrations making up the wall décor in this room fondly referred to as Scholastic’s living room.

For the next couple of hours we all ate great food and had even greater discussions. About ten people, including my mother and me, surrounded a large table and talked book recommendations, Greek mythology, funny college anecdotes, and first New York City apartment stories (I have a lot to look forward to, it would seem). It was beyond excellent; I could have sat there for hours.

Unfortunately, the afternoon was drawing to a close, and Suzanne had to dash off, but not before giving me a few precious treasures. She gave me a lovely copy of Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, the book which gave Katniss Everdeen her surname, and a spider ornament representing a character from her other book series, The Underland Chronicles. In addition, she signed two advanced readers copies of Catching Fire, to ensure minimal scrabbles for the book on the flight home between my mom and me, and the entire Underland series. I was given a number of other books that I simply cannot wait to read, including Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater which, based on all of the strong recommendations, should be awesome.

A few more photos were taken and goodbye hugs were given. I cannot remember the last time I was surrounded by so many genuine and kind people. Thank you, Scholastic for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime and thank you Suzanne Collins for writing such a fantastic story—I can’t wait for more! Interning or working at Scholastic would be such an incredible experience; one day I hope to do one of the two. Now, off to finish Catching Fire!

  1. ISABELLA

    WOW!!
    THESE IS REALLY COOL
    ITS AN INTERESTING BOOK..
    OR BOOKS..
    AND I ALSO LIVED THAT ..
    IT IS AWESOME!!
    PEACE AND LOVE..

  2. Lindsay F

    Kayley is AWESOME and also lived that that is AWESOME also I does also teach me about Peace+love you R.O.C.K.

  3. Alexia

    Hey:
    I want to know how you could be so good at putting things of your stuff up on the wall because I am going to have my own room and I was thinking that may be I could do the same thing that you did because you are so good at it. But how did you paint your own room? Could I do the same thing like you did because it will so cool.

  4. harryobsessed (Allison)

    That’s so neat that Make-A-Wish got to do that! My friend is part of that, and if I recall correctly, she’ll get to meet Johnny Depp sometime next year!
    Defy gravity!

Comments are closed.