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Thanks for a WondLaFul Tour

October 24, 2010

“Tonight the people were so fine
They waited there in line
And when they got up on their feet they made the show
And that was sweet…
But I can hear the sound
Of slamming doors and folding chairs
And that’s a sound they’ll never know”

–Jackson Browne, “The Load-out”, 1977

I am home recovering from my tour across North America that allowed me the chance to visit with many of my favorite book stores. I’d like to thank all of you who came out to see me, especially some of my old fans and friends whom I’ve known since my days as a role-playing game illustrator.

For me, book tour is a combination of exhilaration and exhaustion. Hence, the Jackson Browne song excerpts about life on the road:

“But the band’s on the bus
And they’re waiting to go
We’ve got to drive all night and do a show in Chicago
or Detroit, I don’t know
We do so many shows in a row
And these towns all look the same
We just pass the time in our hotel rooms
And wander ’round backstage
Till those lights come up and we hear that crowd
And we remember why we came…”

Sure, Jackson is a rock-n-roller so he was referring to auditorium-sized crowds, but the lifestyle is pretty much the same. The travel wears me down, but when I see the families, the smiling children who are waiting eagerly to see me, then my excitement takes over and I go out and entertain whether it is 500 attendees or only 5.

And, to be honest, my presentation is a show of sorts: I draw, tell stories, answer questions, entertain and if I’m lucky, inspire. Each event on tour is memorable to me because I meet so many new friends, hear their stories and feel at once validated, humbled and inspired myself. It is an overwhelming feeling. And its not adoration – its people coming out to let me know they enjoy what I create and I can’t ask for much more than that.

Below are some snapshots from favorite moments while on the road this past month.

My much-touted New York City event at Books of Wonder drew a nice crowd of old friends and new to watch actress extraordinaire Uma Thurman read chapter 1 of The Search for WondLa while I rendered a full-sized 2-color illustration in about 10 minutes. I was so touched that other beloved authors, like Jon Scieszka and Jane Yolen also came out to support me. It was a memorable night for sure.

Want to know what 1,000 books looks like? Here I am at Levy Home Entertainment signing copies that will be distributed to Target, Costco and airport bookstores around the country. (I was told I was one of the fastest signers they ever had – sweet!)

Courtesy of Rainy Day Books, I was able to visit beautiful Kansas City for the first time on book tour. My event at the Unity Temple brought families and art students alike, much to my delight. (I’ll be back to KC in the spring for Reading Reptile’s lit festival).

My first leg of tour ended at the Midwest Bookseller’s Association conference in St. Paul, Minnesota. At the children’s book breakfast, I spoke with several other noted authors including Suzanne Collins (author of The Hunger Games trilogy). Here, I presented Suzanne with a little sketch of her heroine, Katniss.

My second leg of tour began with a presentation to Pixar Animation Studios where I had the amazing opportunity to talk bookmaking with some of the best story and animation people in the world. I was in heaven there surrounded by kindred spirits.

As I made my way through San Fran, I was able to see many familiar faces of booksellers (like the gals here at Books Inc) who have promoted my books since The Spider & The Fly tour back in 2002.

Before I took off for Toronto, I made a couple of stops in Texas including the Texas Book Festival where I reunited with Holly Black and a handful of other amazing, talented storytellers such as one of my inspirations: multiple-Caldecott winner, David Wiesner.

Book tour is more than shaking hands with a fan and signing their book. It is a celebration of books and reading with kids and adults of all ages. My tour crisscrossed with numerous other authors and illustrators out there doing the exact same thing. It was reassuring that in the age of digital books, digital movies and numerous other digital pastimes, families still came out to their local bookstore to see and hear an actual living author sign an actual printed book.

“We got time to think of the ones we love
While the miles roll away
But the only time that seems too short
Is the time that we get to play…”

PS – Got any snapshots from my events? Shot me a link, I’d love to see’em!

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Never Abandon Imagination Tony DiTerlizzi: Never abandon imagination.

Imagination is a world of possibility that exists within each of us. It is what makes us uniquely human. It is our creative fingerprint that touches and influences the world around us. Imagination is essential to art and science; to innovation and prosperity. It gives us hope, calls us to action and leads to change.

Whether it’s fairies, dragons, robots or aliens, all of my children’s book characters are siblings born of my imagination – an imagination strengthened through years of encouragement from family, teachers and friends. While so many others abandoned it during their transition from childhood to adulthood, I fiercely held onto mine, hoping for a day when I could share it to inspire the next generation of dreamers. Innovators. World changers.

Imagination empowers us to envision and create a reality of what could be. We must hold it dear, foster it and never abandon it.