Every year Book Expo (neé Book Expo America) provides a fun and informative environment for publishing industry professionals to mix and mingle. Walking onto the convention floor at the Javits Center ushers in an air of excitement as booths for some of the world’s biggest publishing houses come into view. Having just come off of our post-RT17 literary high, it was especially exciting to see many of our friends again! And this year Book Expo accomplished one feat I never thought possible: they took me back in time about ten years …
Whatever do you mean, Kristin?
Only that Chad Michael Murray was in attendance to promote the romance novel that he authored with RT’s longtime friend and multi-award-winning author Heather Graham! Yes, you read that correctly. Heart-throb Chad Michael Murray of One Tree Hill and Cinderella Story fame penned a romance novel and he was at Book Expo alongside Heather and I got to meet him!
It all started like this …
I was wandering the main convention floor, stopping by various booths to say hello to our friends. After ducking out of the Harper Collins area, I noticed a sizable line forming near Macmillan. Naturally I was off to investigate! I turned a corner and then … the professional woman I’ve become was replaced by the nervous, excitable high school student that I thought I left somewhere back in 2008.
Right in front of me, maybe 10 feet away, was the man of my 16-year-old dreams: Chad Michael Murray. AND OHMIGAH HOW HAS HE NOT AGED?!
He and Heather were doing a book signing for American Drifter, their November release starring an Army veteran and an impassioned journalist. Ever the professional, Chad was all about meeting his readers (and making them smile big for photos with him). As you can imagine, the line was quite long …
Fortunately for me, the publishing team at Forge planned a party where lucky people such as myself could meet Heather and Chad in a more intimate environment. Say it with me now:
The room was abuzz when I arrived. Even though the event was meant to have already started, Chad and Heather had not yet arrived because they were still signing autographs on the convention floor! We all decided that this was for the best as we had not yet decided what to say when we met him. (Side note: I seriously cannot express how wildly hilarious/amazing it was to watch a room full of confident, accomplished, totally bad ass women get tongue-tied over their high-school celebrity crush.)
Suddenly the room falls silent … THEY’RE HERE.
Someone tells us to queue up in order to meet with Chad and Heather for autographs and a chat. You do not have to tell us twice! Every person in the room suddenly falls into a perfectly neat and orderly line. We all bounce nervously next to one another, laughing over how funny it is to be so insanely starstruck.
It’s almost my turn. I remind myself that when I was a production assistant I would meet famous people all the time. DO NOT MAKE A FOOL OF YOURSELF, STEC echoes in the suddenly foggy depths of my mind. Fortunately I end up in front of Heather first. I know Heather. I freakin’ adore Heather. I personally stood in the middle of the RT Booklovers Convention dance floor to record her annual musical review! We are buds and I owe her majorly for putting my overly-excited mind at ease.
You know what else I totally owe Heather for? Giving me the perfect opening to tell Chad Michael Murray how flippin’ amazing the RT Booklovers Convention is! By the time it was my turn to sidle on over to Chad’s side of the table, he’d already heard quite a lot of our rhapsodizing over how much fun RT is.
I kicked off our conversation with the opening line I’d worked so hard to polish: “You turned a whole room full of professional women into giggling high schoolers again.” He laughed, I felt at ease, and the experience was generally awesome. We talked about some stuff I honestly don’t even remember because OHMIGAWD YOU GUYS I WAS IN THE PRESENCE OF CHAD MICHAEL MURRAY. You know what I do remember, though? Him being super interested in what Heather and I had to say about the 2018 RT Booklovers Convention in Reno! (I make no promises about his attending, but how cool would that be?)
Anyways, I won’t continue to bore you with our conversation, because I know the moment you’re really interested in. You know you want to know what it was like to hug Chad Michael Murray …
A post shared by RT Book Reviews (@rtbookreviews) on Jun 2, 2017 at 1:09pm PDT
The answer is awesome and not at all awkward. You guys, he is super nice. Also, he is a husband and father now (you totally just pictured Chad holding a swaddled baby and I do not blame you), which makes him feel accessible. Like a friend who would totally bring his wife to meet you and your SO at that cute little wine bar you’ve been dying to check out. Also—because I trust all of our lovely readers not to judge me—I have another delightful tidbit to share with you: HE SMELLED FREAKIN’ AMAZING! (I did not sniff, I SWEAR! I only breathed in normally, OK?!) No, I cannot place the exact scent (though high school Kristin found it suspiciously similar to Axe. Yeah, you remember Axe.). No, I did not ask because OHMIGOD I AM A PROFESSIONAL, OK? But I did inhale and it was freakin’ GLORIOUS!