Yes, I know it’s not Monday today but I simply have to tell you the story of my Monday afternoon from a few days ago! It all started around 3pm on Monday afternoon…
I got a phone call from my husband telling me that Maggie Stiefvater’s car was at his shop right. now. Maggie Stiefvater is into cars (though I’m sure you knew that, considering she has some seriously cool vehicles that she posts about and even has a hashtag #stiefvater cars on her Tumblr account) and her car with the notorious “THIEF” license plate just so happens to be a type that my the company that my husband works for works on (okay, that was a horrible sentence, but you know what I mean). I had seen in a tweet before where she mentioned the shop by name so I knew that she had been there before (where I promptly freaked out) so I quietly reveled in the fact that she had been to my husband’s work before and they had helped tune the THIEF car!
So it’s Monday afternoon and I didn’t even think about making this connection between the shop being near Chicago, knowing Maggie often drives her cars to events, and the fact that I just saw her on Saturday at ALA in the city. I got a phone call from my husband saying that his company just posted a photo of her car on the dyno (a dynamometer that in short, measures the power of the engine and spits out reports that help tuners see and maximize performance) and tagged her in it on their Instagram story. Now I’m guessing that most people who follow the shop’s account are car people, not book people, so if they know Maggie Stiefvater, they probably know her for her cars and that fact that she writes articles for Jalopnik from time to time, probably not for her books… But since Shane knows that I love her books and that she’s taken her car to his shop before, he knew exactly who that tag was and immediately let me know.
We had a few excited and maybe incoherent phone calls back and forth when I realized she was at the shop that was currently ten minutes away from me and literally on my way home from work. Like, I would pass the shop — and her — on my way home. “Would it be weird if I asked to go over there?” I asked him, thinking that maybe I could swing by and say hi but truly not wanting to be creepy and dropping in out of nowhere, being a fan that was invading her privacy. I knew it wasn’t like I was following her and trying to figure out where she was but in this crazy turn of events, it just so happened to be a place that I knew, frequent, know the employees, and my husband freakin’ works there, so it’s not so crazy after all. “Let me make a few phone calls!” Shane said, and got on the phone with his co-workers.
His closest friends were in meetings or on conference calls and was having a hard time getting a hold of them so after a few phone calls to them and then back to me, I told myself it was totally okay if this didn’t happen. It was purely coincidental and again, didn’t want to be a creepy fan and just show up. I definitely wanted permission from the shop to drop in and of course, Maggie’s permission herself as she would be giving up her time to talk to me, a complete stranger.
Finally at 4:51pm, he called me back and said, “She’s waiting for you. Go right now!”
“RIGHT NOW?” I said, trying to mentally prepare myself because I had just spent the last 30 minutes at my desk pretending to try to do work but really trying to think of conversation starters in my head so my first words to Maggie Stiefvater weren’t “werjleksdjkhakjsdjf”.
“Yes, right now!” He said. “They’re waiting to close up the shop. There’s only a few minutes left of the work day. Just go!”
So not wanting to just skate out of work early and look bad, I popped into my boss’s office to ask if I could leave a few minutes early. He told me “of course” without even asking why (sometimes this place really is great) and I immediately packed up my stuff and got in the car. I texted my friends that IT WAS HAPPENING, freaked out for a while, chastised myself for not wearing a better outfit that day, and promised everyone I’d take a picture. I tried to put my audiobook on in the car but how can someone concentrate on listening to a book at a time like that!? So I gave myself a pep talk on the way over, still racking my brain for something on this Earth to talk about. I raced down the street, trying not to speed too much, knowing that MAGGIE WAS WAITING FOR ME, and then I got STUCK BY A FREIGHT TRAIN. Fortunately it was moving quickly but the whole time I was shouting to it “go go go go gooooo Maggie is waiting!!!”
I finally pulled into the shop and I was so dazed that I didn’t even notice Maggie’s car sitting out front, tucked behind another car (unless they had pulled it around when I was inside), and I walked in the front office to go find the sales manager who had set this all up on the shop’s end. I walked in the front door and THERE SHE WAS. I waved to the sales team and then Maggie turned around and I possibly gave the either creepiest or most excited wave I’ve ever given in my life.
“Are you here for me?” She asked.
“Yes, hi! I’m Brittany!” I replied, and we launched into conversation from there.
I thought I would be totally tongue-tied but we actually had some really nice conversation! I was a little awkward at first but I told her that she might know me from my candles because I run and own Novelly Yours.
She said “Yes! The candles! Blue and Her Boys,” with little bit of a grin at the name.
AHHH she knew my candles!! She knew who I was, in a way! She told me she had received three of them so far (So thank you to everyone who gave her one!!!!) and she’ll be burning them for the rest of the year! She asked me what other kinds of candles I made so I had told her about the other Raven Cycle candles that I make and she seemed excited to hear of them. We actually talked about candle-making a bit, asking me if I stirred a giant pot of wax like a witch’s brew (I wish. That would actually be pretty cool) so I detailed the candle-making process a bit and we talked about how I got into making candles of my own.
“So how did you get into making candles?” She asked me. “I’m sorry, I’m sure you get that all the time.”
“Not at all!” I told her, and launched into how I got my start making candles and starting Novelly Yours. I’m sure she answers the same questions over and over way more than I do and who doesn’t want to tell a favorite author about the candles that you made specifically because of their books? It was truly a dream to be able to discuss. I told her about the November Cakes and Scorpio Sea candles and she asked me what the November Cakes candle smelled like, excited about the scents that I described. I told her I’d be happy to send one her way and she said she would love that!
We continued to talk about books — what I was reading (I showed her my copy of THE WICKER KING and forgot to tell her that the friendships in it so far remind me a little of all of the Raven Boys combined), what book I was most looking forward to in the fall (I drew a TOTAL BLANK and helloooo I couldn’t say ALL THE CROOKED SAINTS?) and told her that I was so deep into candles right now that I haven’t been keeping up with my TBR.
“So deep into candles — that’s a sentence I didn’t expect to hear when I woke up this morning!” she said with a laugh. I explained how I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks, especially while I work.
We ended up talking about ALA and I told her that I saw her there on Saturday (as pictured above!). She had asked if she asked me what my favorite book was and I said she hadn’t! So I told her my favorite of the Raven Cycle is BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE — “Ah, the unfinished sentence” — and overall, my favorite is probably THE SCORPIO RACES. I shamelessly told her that I’ve actually only ever listened to the audio because it’s so good and that I listen to it every year. We launched into a conversation about the audio for that book and she shared some funny anecdotes about a bunch of 90-year-old librarians swooning over Steve West at an event at which Maggie, Steve West, and Fiona Hardingham were present for an award. She told me that she actually had gotten to choose the narrators for that book and that it was the first audiobook that Steve West had done so I profusely thanked her for that because I love his narrations, trying to contain my creepy and refraining from telling her that I just listened to eight books narrated by Steve West in the past three months.
I embarrassingly didn’t recognize Courtney Stevens who was with her (I think it was a combo of sunglasses and the fact that I was so starstruck) and we were introduced somewhere along the way of the conversation! I apologized for not recognizing her and told her that I had read THE LIES ABOUT TRUTH and loved it! She mentioned her upcoming novel DRESS CODES FOR SMALL TOWNS which comes out in August and said, “You know what? Let me grab it for you. I was going to give it away anyway,” and went out to her car to grab an ARC for me. “It has a Doc Martin on the cover so you know it’s good,” Maggie said. Courtney even signed it for me, “to make it more valuable when you sell it on eBay,” Maggie joked to which I gasped, “I would never!” though we both knew of course I wasn’t selling it on eBay.
“I actually am more surprised when someone does want an ARC personalized,” Maggie told me. She said she doesn’t even keep copies of ARCs of her own books anymore because it’s just too many copies and she understands that most people pass an ARC along or it just falls apart over time so it makes more sense to get a finished copy personalized.
We started winding down the conversation and although I was having so much fun, I really didn’t want to keep her there any longer than she wanted to be. We wrapped up our chat and I told her I didn’t want to hold her up so with a quick few words back to the shop’s sales team, we parted ways, but not before I asked if she would mind if we took a photo together. “I would not mind at all,” she said, and Courtney was nice enough to take a photo of us…. as my phone once again ran out of space. Thankfully she took two before my phone decided to be so rude (“I knew it would do that,” I told them. “I was deleting things on the way over here!”) and then it was time to go.
I neglected to take a picture of Maggie’s car on my way out because she was already in it and felt like that would be a little weird so I just admired it as I pulled out of the parking lot and reveled in what had just happened. I called my husband on the way home to share some of the details and then tried to listen to my audiobook on the way back home but was admittedly a little too dazed and starstruck to really focus.
It was a crazy whirlwind of events that totally brightened up an otherwise stressful and frustrating Monday. Shane was so wonderful to set that all up for me with the phone calls back and forth to his shop and I thanked the shop and Maggie and Courtney for taking the time out of their days to make this happen for me. It was so nice of everyone to stay at the shop and let me stop by to say hi to one of my favorite authors. I can’t even say it was a dream come true because I would have never thought that this would be something that would have happened, so I guess I have to say it was beyond my wildest dreams!
Thanks again to Maggie Stiefvater for making my day and for making this incredible story happen. It’s always wonderful to fall in love with an author’s work but it just makes reading their books that much more special when you know how much they appreciate fans and give up their time to do things like this for me. It was a truly unique and special experience!!