I FINALLY met Bridget's mummy. Yes, the woman who brought my all-time favourite fictional character into this world was sitting right in front of me. And I was star-struck. I really was. I could not think of anything witty or intelligent to say.
I knew I shouldn't ramble, because there were a lot people waiting to get their book signed by the wonderful Ms Helen Fielding. Also, she was about to be whisked off from the hotel to RTE to take part in the Late Late Show, so time was of the essence. I reckoned I had just 10 seconds to say something. I took a deep breath as I handed her my newly-purchased copies of Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy.
"One of those is for my sister," I mumbled.
"Oh, really?" She looked up at me and smiled. "Is it a Christmas present?"
"Yes," I said.
And that was it. Our conversation couldn't have been shorter. But for ever more I can say I chatted to the creator of Bridget Jones. I even got a photo. For some odd reason, members of the audience where Helen was doing a reading were told not to take photos. Maybe Helen is shy, but she is very pretty and glamorous, so it seemed a pity that photos couldn't be taken. Nevertheless, I stood behind her while my friend took a snap. I guess you could say I photobombed the signing.
Meeting writers for me is always an exhilarating experience. When you spend so much time alone with their stories, you feel like you actually know them.
I remember the first time I met each and every writer I know. Maeve Binchy was the first. I met her on a plane and I nearly died with excitement. Then I went on to meet Marian Keyes, Cathy Kelly, Patricia Scanlan, Melissa Hill, Cecelia Ahern and many, many more.
I also have a collection of personally signed books by the likes of Candace Bushnell, Ethan Hawke, Naomi Wolf, Neil Jordan and many more. Some women collect shoes, but signed books are my thing. And I never tire of meeting authors. For so long I wanted to be an author myself that I still sort of revere other scribes.
Helen Fielding is as witty in real life as she is in her novels. During her talk, she described a funny incident where she had once submitted a book to Mills & Boon, but was turned down due to the book not being of a high enough standard. This really made me laugh. Imagine turning down the great Helen Fielding. It also goes to show that the most determined writers do not let rejection get in the way of success. I've never actually met a writer who hasn't dealt with rejection. So there's definitely a lesson there for all budding authors.
When I first got to know Bridget Jones, I was in my 20s. I smoked and drank and met many unsuitable men. Bridget was like my kindred spirit. I loved her and I still do. So meeting her 'mummy' face-to-face was an unbelievable experience.
Some people follow bands. I follow writers. Yes, I'm a groupie.