I'm standing behind a podium on stage, and I'm arranging a stack of pages, giving them a serious look as if I've written them and understand what they're all about. And there's applause, lots of applause. It's coming from you (this is where you clap).
"Good morning, everyone," I say, and you're looking at me and thinking, "She mentioned that she was tall but, Jesus. I don't think I'm going to be able to focus on anything else she's saying now that I know that she's a giantess."
And since I don't know that you're thinking this, I press on.
"Today we're going to be discussing Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games."
"Which one?" You ask. "There are three."
"All three," I say, grasping all three books with two hands, and dropping one because what I have just tried to do is very awkward. But I pick it up and fan out the paperbacks like playing cards beause I have freakishly long fingers and am able to do this. You are impressed.
"Joining me in our discussion today is literary critic and writer Stephen King..." I nod to my left. The best-selling author sits back in a chair with with one leg propped up on his knee. He has bushy eyebrows, glasses, and looks spooky to us because we know what he's written and it has scared the shit out of us.
"Hiya," he says.
"Literary executioner, Bitina Cleaves..." I motion towards a woman sitting to Stephen King's left. She's wearing a cream-colored suit and matching heels. Her legs are primly crossed, her brown hair is flowing onto her shoulders like a waterfall in a shampoo commercial, there is a dull axe on her lap, and she is covered in blood from the teeth down.
"A pleasure," she growls.
I shift quickly to my right. "Also joining us is my former literary agent, Sarah, and because I couldn't get a sitter, my three kids."
"I told you that I didn't want to come to this," Sarah moans. She is bent forward in her chair with her hand over her face.
"Oh come on Sarah, we get to talk about a book that sold," I whine.
"Unlike yours," she mumbles.
"Sarah, what did we agree to never mention?" I say.
She sits up and sighs. "Fine."
"We don't want to be here either!" two out of three of my kids cry. They are sitting at a table to Sarah's right.
"Too bad!...where's your sister?"
"She's still sleeping," says Emma.
"But she's 13! And she's read the books! She's perfect for this discussion!"
"We need a teenager speak to the love triangle element in the books," says Stephen King. "I can cover the blood and gore because I've been stereotyped for the purposes of this blog to think that way."
"And what did you think of the blood and gore?" I ask.
Bitina Cleaves makes a yummy groan at the word "blood."
"It was delightful," he says, folding his hands on a propped-up knee. "It was the right blend of horrorfying situations, bloody and bruised detail, heart break as in the case of the lilttle girl dying, and death by mutant bees."
I raise my eyebrows. "You enjoyed the mutant bee attacks?"
"Well Gen, you just don't get enough of that in literature."
"Maybe if we'd added that to the end of your book it would have sold," sighs my former agent.
"It's not a horror novel," I say.
"My Girl wasn't horror, it had death by bees, and it was a blockbuster hit."
"That was a movie."
"Think towards the market!!"
"Moooom, what's for dinner?" my son whines.
Betina Cleaves salivates over her axe, and eyeballs Stephen King, mumbling the word "dinner."
"You stay away from me," he says, squirming in his chair.
"Miss Cleaves, Stephen King is an established writer, I doubt he needs a review."
He shoots me a look. "You'd be surprised."
"But we're here to talk about The Hunger Games," I remind them, holding up the books.
My kids double over in their seats. "So hungry! When is this stupid thing over?"
"Later!" I snap. "I'll cook chicken in a few minutes."
The two of them fall out of their chairs and writhe on the ground as if I have told them that I am serving them broiled-frogleg-and-beet salad for dinner because this is what they do when the word "McDonald's" doesn't pop out of my mouth.
Claire, my 13 year old then walks bleary-eyed onto the set. "What's the matter with them?"
"They're hungry. So Claire...what did you think of The Hunger Games?"
She shrugs. "It's ok."
"Ok??" I ask. "You're wearing a Hunger Games T-shirt."
"And you're carrying a bow and arrow, and a life-sized cardboard cutout of Josh Hutcherson."
She shrugs again. "It's, like, whatever."
"Go back to bed."
"What's for dinner?"
"Unsold copies of your mom's book," says Sarah, pulling out a stack of my manuscripts from a bag and a crockpot.
"Hey!" I yell.
"Come on kids," she says, tossing a manuscript into the pot and sprinkling it with pepper. "This is the only way she's ever going to feed you with writing."
"I like your style," Betina Cleaves grumbles at Sarah.
"Guys!" I holler. "This is a series of books that is having a powerful affect on young readers, some of which who are future writers! We need to talk about this. Stephen King, you're still with me, aren't you?"
"Actually, I am kind of hungry." He gets up and strides over to the pot, which is beginning to stew. He sniffs. "Hm...this isn't done, it needs more work."
I sigh and smack my forhead. Then the scent of the book fills the literary executioner's nostrils, and she cries out like Xena. She leaps across the room, lifts the crockpot and drinks everything down in one gulp.
"A sorry attempt for a first novel! Predictable, slow-paced, lame, too lumpy, needs more salt!"
Stephen King pulls a paperback out of his pocket. "My new book on the other hand-"
Bitina weilds her axe and screams, chasing him around the room.
"Oooooh!" my kids whine. "Now what are we supposed to eat?"
"It's ok," says Sarah. "I have all 206 versions of the book that I made your mom rewrite."
She throws them into a cauldron.
I remove my hand from my face, stand up straight, and look back at you guys, the blog audience.
"Well, thank you for joining us today. Tune in next week when we discuss Life of Pi. Special guests will include JK Rowling, a zebra, a random Indian, and Kermit the Frog."
Que theme music, which is cheesy 70's-ish, and fuels my children's overall dissatifiaction. One of them has taken Bitina's axe and is chasing her with it while Stephen King and Sarah discuss different ways of fricasseeing my book.
The unsold copies of which, by the way, you can find here. So get out your forks, bibs, and cooking supplies before diving in....what do you mean, this blogpost has been nothing but shameless promotion? Of course it has! The Hunger Games series hasn't gotten nearly enough attention. I'm just a writer helping another writer out. To prove I'm serious, you can find copies of that poor struggling series here. It's going to be ok, Suzanne Collins! I'll make you famous!