George R.R. Martin’s A DANCE WITH DRAGONS B&N signing

 

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Last night, George rocked the Barnes & Noble at Union Square. Lo these many years ago, back in 2005, I was present at George’s first New York City signing for A FEAST FOR CROWS, which took place at the Astor Place Barnes & Noble. Before then, New York crowds were considered too sophisticated to turn out in any numbers for a lowly genre fantasy author, but we decided to try it with FEAST. It succeeded beyond our wildest imagination. I think the store expected about a hundred folks. They got over 700.

And last night’s event blew that previous event completely out of the water! We snuck in through the backdoor of the Union Square store at 6 pm, and got delivered, via freight elevator, to the green room, where we set up an assembly line of signing, stickering, and stacking stock while the crowd outside buzzed with anticipation. George’s publicist and I snuck looks at the crowd, which had filled both the fourth floor, and the third. It was impressively large.

At about 6:45 pm, we decided to make our entrance, since many of the fans had been waiting patiently since 8 am. We freight elevatored to the third floor, then made our way through the third floor crowds to the escalator, then up to the fourth floor events stage. As George crested the escalator, a howl of joy rose from the assembled masses, quickly organizing itself into cries of: “The King in the North, the King in the North!” We were all grinning.

George spoke for about half an hour, answering the two most anticipated questions in advance: “Why did it take you so long?” and “What do you think of the show?” Then he took additional questions from the audience, who were asked in advance not the reveal any spoilers. Which led to one delightfully convoluted question, and George’s answer: “If you’re talking about what I think you are talking about, then the answer is yes.”

After the Q & A, a kindly representative on behalf of the ladies at the Inn at the Crossroads presented George with a fortifying basket of meat pies to help him through the signing, and George took the opportunity to announce that I just recently completed a deal with Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer, the amazing women behind the site, and will be publishing an Ice and Fire cookbook soon. More howls of approval met the news.

Here is what the crowd looked like right before the signing commenced:

B&N signing 1

Then the signing began. And continued. And continued. And continued. Because of the number of people who had turned up, George could not personalize any entries or pose for photographs, or sign any more than two books, but from where I sat at the exit to the stage, no one seemed remotely upset about this. It was all grins and bouncing as person after person exited the line, delightedly clutching their singed DANCEs.

The staff at the store were incredible, managing the vast crowds with a seamless grace that was truly impressive to witness as they moved them into and out of the seats. And they had nothing but praise for the assembled masses, who were polite and well-mannered, and cheerful throughout. I think many friendships were forged during that long day of waiting, because lots of folks were exchanging contact details with their seatmates as they exited the line. The feeling of collegiality and love for all things Ice and Fire was palpable in the room throughout.

2 1/2 hours into the event, the crowds were still vast and happy:

B&N signing 2

B&N clocked the crowd at 1,800 strong by the time the event ended at 10:30 pm–beating George’s 1,650-person Boston event handily. They said it was one of the best author signings they had ever hosted–in large part due to the general froodiness of all the fans. So thanks for being such a stand-up bunch, you guys! You did us all proud.

They also said it was one of the best EDITOR signings they had ever hosted as well. George was kind enough to point me out as the woman who beat him with the big stick in order to hasten the delivery of the books, and I received a lot of grateful thanks for my work at getting DANCE out there at last. I also, to my amazement, was asked to sign about 100 of the books myself. At one point, I even had a line!

George was thrilled with the event, and burned through three pen cartridges–and into a fourth–before all was done.

B&N signing 3

It was genuine thrill to be witness to this event, and to share in the love for all things Ice and Fire that pervaded the room. I’ve always known that these books were the best thing ever, and it is an awesome thing to see how many people now share that passion. I was honored to be with everyone there last night, and thank you so much for your enthusiam and devotion. And to the folks at the Union Square Barnes & Noble…you folks are the GREATEST! Thanks for hosting a truly memorable evening.