On Meeting Gordon Korman

I do want to talk about one thing that happened back in May. Near the end of the month, I was very kindly invited by Scholastic Canada to attend their annual dinner for authors and illustrators. It was a fabulous shindig featuring Scholastic authors and illustrators along with editors, other people in the company, plus booksellers and other important people to network with in the industry. I, like other authors, take to networking much as a fish takes to Highway 401, but I still enjoyed myself, and put myself out there.

I just happened to be doing the circle through the venue, after putting on my name badge, when suddenly a man in front of me spots my badge, shakes my and and says, “Oh! James Bow! It’s great to meet you! I’m Gordon Korman!”

And I went, “Guuuuuuuuuuuuuh!”

Gordon Korman is a particular type of celebrity particularly known to children going through the Ontario education system’s grades 6-9 classes during the 1980s. He wrote a series of humorous children’s novels set in a private boarding school northeast of Toronto, including This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall. He published that particular novel when he was in grade seven. Published by Scholastic, no less, and given the full backing of their marketing department. He was featured on TV Ontario, including their Read All About It series. He was a genuine celebrity who was also that rarest of qualities: local.

I joke that I and my fellow kids at the time kind of hated him. After all, he’d published his first best-selling novel in grade 7. We were in grade 7. What had we done with our lives? Huh? Huh?

But, that’s a joke. He was the basic embodiment of a childhood hero for me and my friends.

And he still is a best seller, on both sides of the border. He lives in New York, I believe. He has moved onto thrillers and has set a pace I cannot hope to match.

And somehow, because I’d friended him on Facebook, he recognized my name, reached out to shake my hand, and greeted me as if he’d known me all his life.

My mind was completely blown.

But he was kind and friendly, and after I got a chance to recover my senses, I was able to approach him again, and hand over a signed copy of Icarus Down in gratitude for that moment, and all the other moments since I was in grade seven.

I hope he enjoys it.

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