I’ll admit it: I follow MJ on twitter. She’s hilarious, she’s spunky, and she’s always tweeting. And in between typing all those 140-character bursts of adorable, she writes books. So when I heard that Maureen Johnson was launching her newest book, The Name of the Star, at my neighborhood bookstore, I knew I had to go meet her.
The Name of the Star is a ghost story set in present-day London with a freaky historical twist: what if the crimes authorities believe are the work of a modern-day Jack the Ripper copycat killer are in fact the work of Jack the Ripper himself? It’s full of gruesome murders and British boarding schools and creepy discoveries. Needless to say, I started reading it the second the Books of Wonder clerk put it in my hands.
The small public reading space in the back of Books of Wonder was full to bursting with your expected mix of quirky teens, author friends of MJ, and publishing professionals–and the slightly less-expected addition of random men dressed as Jack the Ripper. After a brief introduction from the store’s manager, Maureen emerged from the basement, grinning ear to ear.
“I thought no one would come!” Maureen laughed, in between telling us about the cat sculpture an artistic neighbor made her out of a rusty saw blade and pelting audience members with “YA Saves” T-shirts. We didn’t get a chance to hear MJ read aloud from The Name of the Star, but the launch had such a relaxed, conversational feel (and such delish cupcakes) that I couldn’t be too disappointed. I sat, rapt and giggly, as Maureen recounted the trip to London that sparked the idea for The Name of the Star. The trip she ended by telling random people on the plane, “I have an idea for a book!” She insists that none of those fellow passengers recognized her, but after the launch party I find that hard to believe. These days, MJ is a bit of a rockstar.
While I waited patiently in line to speak to her, I couldn’t help but get a bit nervous. But when I met Maureen, she signed my book (“To Figment!”) with a flourish and complimented my hair. And as I floated away, I had to wonder: would she tweet about this?