01 May 2011

Meeting K. A. Applegate!!

Yesterday, I met K. A. Applegate (really Katherine, but I always think of her as "KA"), author of the Animorphs book series. I found out that she was signing books at the Festival of Books. I hesitated because it's being held over at USC this year, but really there was no question--if she was there, I had to meet her.

I have a couple of my books here (#1-6), but they are very "loved" (aka ratty), and the rest are at home. So I went to B&N and bought the re-released #1 and #2. I was worried about traffic and parking, so I ended up getting to the booth an hour before her signing. I wandered around looking at various booths ... I actually bought too many books yesterday. You can't take a Kissinger to a Festival of Books and not have her walk out with tons of new purchases!

When I came back to the booth, there was a line, which grew after I got in it. Everyone in line was my age. When I was third in line, this guy came over to talk to me, and while we were talking I realized he was Michael! ("Yes, the infamous Michael from the dedication page.") And he pointed out his children, Jake and Julia.

The girl in front of me began crying, and KA teared up as well! I have to admit I kind of understood how she felt. My own hands were shaking as I took a picture for her. Finally, it was my turn.

I said how nice it was to meet her, how I'd been reading her books since 5th or 6th grade. I told her about how me and my friends would pretend to be the Animorphs. I told her that on the drive over, I realized that Animorphs was the first scifi books I'd ever read, which led me into the entire scifi genre. It was really from reading science fiction that I first decided I wanted to be an astronaut ... which has led me to being here, where I am today, a grad student in space physics. She really liked hearing that and called Michael over for me to tell him.

I told her that her books were the first ones that made me think about war, and what it meant for a person to go through war and be affected by it. I learned so much about animals from her books. Seeing a hawk made me think of Tobias and thermals. I can never trust a person named Chapman. I would order Happy Meals "with extra happy".

She was so nice and kind. It was really a great pleasure to meet her, to have her sign my books. She had a little notebook for us fans to sign as well.

I wish I could have explained to her how much Animorphs dominated my middle school life. How my friends and I learned to be creative and come up with elaborate plots and characters, based on her work. I made up my first fully realized character, Quantana, to give Ax a girlfriend--admittedly a bit of a Mary Sue. The way she wrote still influences my writing style! How I met my best friend by thrusting the simming at her and insisting that she write something. How I don't know anything about the Civil War, because it was so easy to sim in 8th grade history class that we never paid attention. How I met people on the Internet who became good real life friends, all from Animorphs Role Play. I wish I could have brought the +1000 pages of the simming to show her--maybe have her sign it!--but it's at home.

I still remember lying on the couch, and my dad handing me an Animorphs book to read. But it was #2, so I had no idea what was going on, or why their dialogue was in '<' and '>' symbols! Animorphs was also the first series, and remains one of the few, where I identified more with a guy character than a girl.

Animorphs were the first books I read that made me think "What if...?", where I realized that you could pretend anything you wanted and it could be better than the real world around you. The Animorphs were funny, they were smart, they turned into animals, and they struggled so much with trying to save the world. Just six idiot teenagers with a death wish, but they helped me to dream, to think, and to build powerful and enduring friendships.

For Jenni,

With thanks for being such an amazing fan!

You're awesome.



  1. I am so incredibly jealous. Simming Animorphs online and at my desk in middle school defined my entire adolescence, and still defines my present day. Most of my best friends in the world I met through Animorphs forums.

    I'm glad you got to meet KA. It sounds like it was a fantastic experience.

  2. That's really awesome of you to do a write up! I was at that event too, but didn't see you because I was at her second signing. I'm glad you had a good time :) It was cool reading other fans' experiences from this event.

  3. hey i found this link from animorphs page in facebook and wow, you're lucky to meet almighty KA!! :)


We rock.

Jenni and Heather are two sisters who live in completely different places, and do completely different things with their lives.