Holy cow. Holy holy cow. If there ever was a holy cow, I’m invoking said cow now.
So, at 5-something this morning, the phone rings. I was aware that today was the ALA (American Library Association) Mid-Winter meeting, where they announce the book awards. I knew my agent had left on Friday to go attend. So, phone call at 5 am, and I’m thinking, this is the meanest prank call in the world.
Barbara (I hope I’m getting her name right, I had begun to shake and couldn’t hold the phone straight on my head): Is this Shannon Hale?
Me: Yes? (I was unsure myself)
Barbara: This is Barbara (last name? again, recall the shaking) and the entire Newbery Committee.
Me: (I’m not sure I said words, perhaps some sort of primitive grunt)
Barbara: (I’m paraphrasing, I’m sure she was much more eloquent) We are calling to inform you that princess academy has been selected as a Newbery Honor Book.
Me: Oh! Thank you so much. Uh…grunt, grunt…
Barbara: Are you crying?
Me: Uh, ya, um, I have to admit I’m crying. (I was pretty slobbery, and still with the shaking.)
I could hear now that I was on speaker phone, and the entire Newbery committee really was all there, listening, and they laughed at me, which I was so grateful for.
Barbara: We’re all looking forward to meeting you this summer at the annual meeting.
Me: Oh, do I get to go?
Again, more laughter.
Me: Thank you, I just want to thank you so much.
Barbara: No, we want to thank you for such a wonderful book.
Then they applauded. They clapped for me on the phone, on speaker phone, as I sat in bed in my flannel pajamas at 5-something in the morning. That was perhaps one of the most magical and strange and ethereal moments of my life. Not as glorious and transcendental as when Max was born, but something akin to it.
After the call ended, I lay down in bed, hugged my husband, and sobbed. For like ten minutes. Hard crying, like I haven't done since my sister died, as though my body was saying, "I can't process this, I'm not prepared to handle this." And then I felt like I needed to throw up so I went to the bathroom and dry heaved for a while, then I returned to bed and lay there with Dean until I stopped shaking and could stop saying, “I can’t believe it…” Now we could talk about it at last. Now we could laugh.
Me: I just want to assure you, now that I’m famous and adored, I’m not going to leave you.
Strangely, that idea never seemed to have crossed his mind.
Me: Honey, this is crazy.
Dean: Well, you’re crazy, so it fits.
Of course, we couldn’t go back to sleep. We tried for about 10 minutes until it became ridiculous. I got up, said a prayer, checked my email (none), then watched the webcast on ala.org, just to make sure. I was nervous as I listened, half-anticipating that they wouldn’t really give princess academy a Newbery Honor. Then when they actually really did announce princess academy, they cheered for me! As if they’d heard of my book before or of me or something. It’s so weird. I’m just some schmo.
Deb called, my friend and publicity director at Bloomsbury, and we laughed and shook together, and she told me people would be calling me (they haven’t yet. Who will they be? And how will they get my number?).
Deb: Purely from a design standpoint, the silver sticker will look better on the princess academy cover than the gold would have.
Me: Oh, I’m so glad it’s an honor and not the medal. I’m not ready for that kind of pressure.
I need to call my family and friends, as soon as it’s not too early. And I’ll spend the day with Max, of course, reading and eating oatmeal and applesauce and running around the stool. I’m going to go rewrite a scene from rapunzel’s revenge before he wakes up. Keeping my head in the game, that’s what I’m going to do.