|Lauren Winner- image from http://divinity.duke.edu/|
Last month, just over two weeks ago, one of my favorite authors, Lauren Winner, came to my college to speak in chapel and to give a colloquium. You may recognize her from her books, like Girl Meets God, Real Sex, Mudhouse Sabbath, or her latest book Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis. In addition to being a successful author, she also teaches at Duke Divinity School in North Carolina.
Earlier this semester, when I found out that Lauren Winner was coming to campus, I mentioned to a colleague and friend that I was a fan of her writing and I hoped to meet her during her visit to campus. He recommended that I ask the powers that be (my now friend and former professor of Ethics) if I could meet Lauren Winner. I did (thank you Kent!) and I was even invited to dinner with her, Winner, and another colleague from the college (thank you Christina!). Amazing! How many people get to eat dinner with one of their favorite authors?
As the time approached, I read and re-read some of her books to prepare for her visit. As I did my "research" I came to an interesting realization about authors, like Winner, who write autobiographies: they reveal so much of their stories to readers. It must be strange, then as an author, to meet people who already know so much about you, or at least the portion of you project in your writing. With this possibility of a realization in mind, I was determined not to be one of those creepy "I feel like I know you" fans when I met Lauren. I would be cool, or at least as cool I could be.
Finally, on April 25th, the day arrived of Lauren's visit. I had a lot of grading to finish, so I listened to her chapel address on the college radio station. In the afternoon I attended the colloquium, which was wonderful, and before I knew it it was time to jump in the car and drive to St. Louis for dinner. Lauren Winner, Christina, Brian, and me.
The drive from campus to our restaurant, Mangia, on South Grand was nearly an hour. On our way there we talked about almost everything: politics, religion, literacy, education- it was great! We arrived at the restaurant in time for half price appetizers (hooray!) and ordered duck potstickers (delicious!) and tomato bruschetta (yum!).
During dinner, our conversation continued over delicious food. At one point, Lauren asked each of us what our favorite book was that we read in the past year. Woah! One of my favorite authors asked me what I was reading? Cool! All of the books shared around the table were interesting, and I wish that I would have written them down. The rest of the dinner went well: delicious food, a bit of laughter, and more great conversation.
Looking back on the whole experience, I am so grateful for how it went. I've heard of people meeting authors and being disappointed, but Lauren was no disappointment! Meeting a woman with a powerful voice, an accomplished career as a writer and academic, and thoughtful Christian was an inspiration. I must admit that I wasn't very talkative during my dinner with Winner, but that was because I had so many interesting things to listen to and learn about from her and my colleagues from the college. This adventure may be my favorite one from this semester.
What a wonderful opportunity! Have you ever met an author? Or, if you could- who would it be?
Thanks for reading!