What To Do (and Not to Do) When Meeting Your Favorite Author

Anthony Aycock
8 min readJul 19, 2018
George R. R. Martin photo by dravecky from Wikimedia Commons

My longest wait in line was not for Space Mountain at Walt Disney World. It was not at any of the nation’s departments of motor vehicles. It was not for a Star Wars premiere, a spanking new iPhone, or brisket at the famous Franklin Barbecue, whose line has its own Twitter account. (Line-cutting at Franklin will get you killed, unless you’re Barack Obama, and if you are, you’d better pay for everybody.)

No, my longest line wait was at a science fiction convention. The guest of honor: George R.R. Martin. His autograph session for that Saturday was scheduled for 3:00, and at 12:15, my wife said, “You should get in line now.”

I was a rookie con-goer in those days, unprepared for the descent into madness that accompanies big stars such as GRRM. “The sign says the line will start at 2:00,” I argued, pointing at just such a sign. She pointed in turn to the dozen or so people already standing there. Another two or three walked up before she could lower her hand. So I assumed the position.

A few minutes later, a convention staff member — I’ll call her “Bee” — walked over. “We’ll start the line at 2:00,” she announced. Until then, she said, we should “go enjoy the rest of the con.” There were now about twenty of us, and we moved six feet away to flank the concrete steps that led from the hotel entrance to a duck pond.

Unsatisfied, Bee told us to move on, saying she had to “keep the steps clear.” They were currently so clear that piano movers could have hauled up a Steinway. A guy who looked like Robert Downey Jr. tried to tell Bee she was being unreasonable. We had paid for admission, he argued, and it was our prerogative to waste three hours in line. Another person said there was “nothing else to do.” Bee left and returned with a guy in stormtrooper cosplay who asked/ordered us to disperse. Downey Jr. stood up, defeated. “It’s a little unnecessary,” he said, more soliloquy than direct address, “but whatever.” And we moved away.

Things were tense after that. People arrived by the minute, and because we couldn’t form a line, we had to hang around pretending that we weren’t forming one. “This is literally why we bought tickets,” somebody said. “I don’t think they were ready for this kind of crowd,” said another person. By 1:45, at…