Last week, I was honored to attend the Kentucky Library Association/Kentucky Association of School Librarians annual conference in Louisville, where I was presented with the Kentucky Bluegrass Award for I Hunt Killers. The award was great, the ceremony was great, the librarians were great, but even before all of that, I spent a few days in Northern Kentucky (so far north, the natives call it “Southern Ohio”), where I visited a bookstore, two schools, and a library.
First up was Blue Marble Books, pretty much as soon as I got off the plane! A quick stop at the hotel and then I was at Blue Marble, where I talked about I Hunt Killers and After the Red Rain and answered questions and signed books and admired some appropriately bloody cookies.
The next day, I spent the day at Campbell County High School. I spoke to the entire senior class, then the entire junior class, then spent some time with a small group of about a dozen kids who were aspiring writers. In every case, I had a blast. The big groups were incredibly enthusiastic, and the kids in the small, focused group had some terrific questions. It was a lot of fun.
That night, I spoke at the Newport branch of the Campbell County Public Library, where a twelve-year-old girl asked the most incredible, mechanical question about paragraph transition. I almost never get technical questions at these things — people always want to know big picture stuff. I was amazed and impressed that this kid was so deep into writing already, and I blurted out, “You’re kick-ass!” Her father was sitting right next to her. Fortunately, he laughed.
The next day, I awoke at the ungodly hour of 5:45am (seriously, even the sun was asleep) to make the trip to Boone County High School. Again, I spoke to two large groups (this time mixes of all four grade levels), then hung out with a smaller group in the library. This group had had to produce pieces of art inspired by I Hunt Killers, so I got to see some cool artwork and listen to some very, very gruesome poetry! They were a great bunch and we had a lot of fun.
That afternoon, I traveled to Louisville, where I had dinner with a group of librarians. The following day, I attended the KASL award luncheon, where I was formally given the Kentucky Bluegrass Award. I gave a talk on why I write what I write and why I take the risks I take, a talk made more amusing than it deserved to be when we discovered the projector was showing my presentation upside down!
As the luncheon wended towards its end, I was called to the podium again, much to my surprise. This time, I was presented with a certificate from the Governor of Kentucky, naming me a Kentucky Colonel.1 Now I’m in the same club as George Clooney, Muhammed Ali, Betty White, and Elvis Presley. How cool is that?
Needless to say, I was quite surprised — I didn’t expect two honors in the same day!
It was humbling to receive both awards, but I have to admit I have a special place in my heart for the commission from the Governor, mainly because now I insist all my friends call me “Colonel.”
- Yes, just like Colonel Sanders. Read the link.↩