Growing up, if I didn’t know how something worked I would make stuff up. I thought that stoplights were operated by people high up in invisible towers and that computers were just TVs without cable. Admittedly, some theories were crazier than others.
My theories about publishing houses were much the same. I imagined glass rooms with giant screens for cover-designing, endless libraries with every book ever published, and way underground a factory with elaborate conveyor belts that moved from floor to ceiling, carrying fresh-printed pages. It was basically the literary equivalent of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
When I found out that I won a day at HarperCollins Publishers, that whimsical fantasy had long since disappeared. Instead, I expected an office building like any other.
The tour would go like a tour of my mom’s job:
This is Bob from accounting.
And Bill. I don’t know what Bill does, but he’s here every day and he’s a really good listener.
This is the water cooler, where we gather and discuss America’s Got Talent and recent budget cuts. Would you like some coffee?
Don’t get me wrong. I was excited, just ask the many people who heard me screaming that day. But like I said, office building.
Long story short, it was awesome. Office building? Yes. A posh office building with glass doors and books everywhere. There were books lined up along the walls and stacked on tables.
In the lobby, someone had set up a display case with a quote from my story, Swimming, that welcomed me to the building. We had lunch in what I assume was a conference room (long shiny table and big rolling chairs).
I met, I want to say ten, people. A few I had already met through email, and they were just as nice in person as they were in cyber space. They all seemed to have really important jobs (at Teen.com, Epic Reads, and of course HarperCollins), and I was just sort of awkward and there like, “I was on the dean’s list last semester. That’s cool, right?”
Lauren Oliver is hilarious. I was not expecting that. She is honestly so nice and funny and an amazing writer. I was so happy that anyone liked my story to start with, and it’s the coolest thing in the world that she liked it enough to pick it as the winner of the Requiem Writing Contest. As a parting gift, she signed Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem. *happy dance*
Editor’s note: They literally did a happy dance. Look!
After the lunch, I had a couple of days to explore the city. I’d love to fill everyone in on all of the glamorous details, but what happens in New York stays in New York.
No, I’m not cool enough to use phrases like that. I had fun. I’ll probably sound like a geek for saying this, but my two favorite things about the city are the trees in Central Park and the architecture. New York has a lot of history, which shines in the buildings and landmarks.
I’ll never forget the trip or the contest or the amazing people. No matter where I go from here (whether I find my way in the publishing industry or become a socially awkward English teacher — maybe both?), this will always be one of my happiest memories, and I am beyond thankful.