The very first time I met Jay Asher was at the SCBWI Summer Conference in 2010. We were in a big crush of people in the banquet hall, it was chaos, I introduced myself on the spur of the moment, and I’d be shocked if Jay remembers. I remember thinking he seemed a bit withdrawn, and wondering if it was because he faced a constant stream of random people like me saying “OMG YOU’RE JAY ASHER” and whatnot.
We met in a more substantial way two years later at my first-ever faculty gig, at the 2012 Kansas SCBWI conference. We had a couple of real conversations, and I thought “oh, he’s an introvert! Which is awesome because I AM TOO!” I hadn’t suspected that before just because, you know, Disco Mermaids, eighteen bazillion speaking gigs, etc., am I right? It’s easy to overlook the truth in the glare of the lights, I suppose.
We keep running into each other here and there, and something I like about Jay is the fact that he appears to truly grasp the gigantic scope of what’s happened to him. He’s clearly grateful and happy about his career, but he also gives the distinct impression of a man thinking “dude, this $*%& is intense and out of control!” Which seems like an eminently sane and human response. It seems real, you know? I like people who are real. I’m glad I get to hang out with Jay every so often, even if it’s usually just for a short while.