Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Don't meet your heroes, unless your hero is George R.R. Martin...

Den of the Beastly Bear

Howdy Folks!

About May of 1990 I came across a book called "The Eye of the World" by Robert Jordan...and it rocked my world! I LOVED this book!!! So when I finished it I loaned it to my best buddy Dave, and his reaction was the same!

Little did we know we had started on a journey of 14 books over 23 years!!! Around 1997 I found out Robert Jordan would be attending Dragoncon, (an East Coast Comiccon) as a panelist, discussing his books. He would also be doing book signings.

I got a hold of Dave, reservations were made, tickets bought, and off to Atlanta we went!!!

Back then the event was held over three days, over Father's day weekend in June.

We got in a day before Jordan was to speak, we stayed at the Atlanta Hyatt just a couple blocks from the convention center.

We were beside ourselves getting to meet our literary hero!!!

We had breakfast at the hotel restaurant before heading to the convention center. I needed film for my 35mm camera and went to buy some at the hotel thrift shop while Dave waited in the restaurant. 

As I got to the thrift shop there was a sign on the door "Back in 10 min.", so I set about waiting. As I did a man stepped up beside me, I paid him no mind...just another guy waiting for the store to open.

After a couple of minutes the guy says to me "How long you been waiting?"
"Oh, about 5 min. or so, they should be open any minute."
I was still doing the "elevator" wait...you know just standing, looking straight ahead, but I'd turned my head slightly to respond to my fellow waitee...when I noticed his walking stick. A very distinct walking stick. I'd only seen one like it once before...in the hands of the man I'd flown to Atlanta to see.
"Hey, you're Robert Jordan...aren't you?"
I asked.

Instantaneously he went from just another guy waiting for a store clerk to return to....
Super Diva Asshole!!!

"I don't have time to TALK!" he snapped at me "I have a million things to do...and I don't have time for THIS!!!"

At which point he spun on his heel, stomped over to the poor security guard and began berating him about the store being closed and that he was an important man and he had places to be and they were wasting his valuable time etc.,etc.!!! Complete Diva meltdown!!!

About this time the clerk returned and opened the shop.
"Mr. Jordan? They're open..." I offered.
Without even breaking rant, he waved me off turned and stomped off. I gave the security guard a sympathetic look, he just shook his head. I purchased my film and made my way back to Dave to fill him in. He was incredulous to say the least.

When we got to the convention center Dave and I split up, he entered a card game tournament...I headed to the convention room where Jordan was to speak.

As they introduced each author I was in the front row taking pictures. As Jordan stepped out, he made eye contact with me and literally stumbled. I just smiled and waved. Through the whole panel he kept eyeing me like he thought I was going to "out him" in front of everyone.

The book signing wasn't scheduled until around 5 pm so I had plenty of other panels, exhibitions, demonstrations to see. What's funny is I kept running into Jordan all over the convention center.
He might have accused me of stalking him, except that I was always there first, he never said a word to me, but recognized me each time. Also, I never happened to be with Dave when I ran into him...

When we finally got in line for the book signing, it was announced he would sign a maximum of two books, his name only, on the title page no personalization!

His wife Harriet(who also we later learned was his editor) helped by making sure the books were turned to the right page. He was brusque and borderline rude to most everyone. Dave, ahead of me got his books signed...and then it was my turn.

Jordan looked up: "Oh, uh hey...uh sorry about this morning. I always start my day with a newspaper after breakfast...and well, I was in a bit of a rush."
"I understand..." I said
"What's your name?" He asked.
"I'm Joe," I said and pointed to Dave "and this is my buddy Dave...we flew down from Michigan to see you."
"Well, enjoy yourselves..."
As I looked down at my book he'd written:

Hope you're having a great time at Dragoncon!
Robert Jordan

Wow, he personalized my book! Yay me!
But it kind of left a bitter taste in my mouth, yeah it turned out good for me...but the guy was a jerk. Well maybe he just was having a bad day.

Over the years I saw Jordan two more times for book signings, once with Dave once on my own and he was an ass to the people at the book stores every time! Without exception he was rude and dismissive of his fans as well. Like he really couldn't be bothered.

Jordan died in 2007 of Cardiac Amyloidosis. Brandon Sanderson was chosen by he and his wife to finish the last 3 books in the series from Jordan's notes.

In 1996, I found another great book! "A Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin.

Yes, THAT "Game of Thrones"!

But in '96 nobody had ever heard of it. The ONLY author to have ever really supplanted Jordan as a fantasy author!!!

So I gave it to Dave to read, he loved it as much as I did!!!

Christmas was rolling around so I thought I'd get a copy for Dave. First editions were by then sold out everywhere...so I went searching online.

I came across George R.R. Martins website, offering signed first editions for $38! So I sent the website an email about purchasing one.

The next day I got a reply.....
From the man himself!!!

He told me the process, thanked me for being a reader...asked me how I wanted it personalized?!?

What???? You're asking me what I want? Not telling me what you'll do and I can like it or not? What a difference!!!

So I sent him an email explaining it was to be a Christmas gift, and that Dave was my friends name and he had already read my copy and whatever he felt appropriate would be fine.

He wrote me back saying if I really wanted to blow my friend away, book 2 was being released in the UK Dec. 1st.! 3 full months before it would be available here, and Amazon UK would guarantee arrival worldwide by Christmas. So I got Dave both!!!

I maintained an email relationship with him for a couple years, before his popularity necessitated he no longer personally answer correspondence. Dave and I have seen Martin in person twice. Friendly and jovial at EVERY event...chatting with everybody he signs for a couple minutes...what a classy guy!!! He even remembered me, and when I had him sign my foil cover first edition...he said "You know what you've got there don't ya Joe?!?"
I just smiled..."Yes sir I do!!!"
Current signed copies are going for around $1,600.00
You're welcome Dave!  ;-)

So if you must meet one of your heroes, make it George R.R. Martin!!! You won't be disappointed!

Be Well Folks!

Beastly Bear


  1. Wow what a jerk. There is no reason for these 'stars' to get all diva-like. It really blows your whole view of them when they act like that. I don't know if you remember the game show host Gene Rayburn, but he lived on Cape Cod and it wasn't at all unusual to see him out and about in Hyannis. People avoided him b/c he had a reputation for being downright nasty and rude. He would also pull the 'don't you know who I am?' crap too. He was also a male chauvenist pig and said very inappropriate things to women and young girls. I saw him once when I was out w/ my parents....I was still pretty young, maybe 9 or 10, and was about to loudly say, 'OH MY GOD THAT'S GENE RAYBURN!'. My parents whispered to me to stay away from him and not say a word, so I didn't.

    1. Used to LOVE Gene Rayburn, he seemed like he would be so much fun...
      Guess that's the difference between the persona and the man! Thank god they are not all that way...George R.R. Martin reaffirmed my faith!

  2. Okay, this is why when people ask me if I had had the chance to meet Elvis, would I have jumped at it and I always say, NO. I want him to always be who I think he is, not who he might have turned out to be.

  3. Probably a good idea Jo, here I thought an author might be flattered to be recognized...I know I would be.

  4. First, when I'm rich and famous I promise not to be an asshole - more than I'm already an asshole now. :) Second, you had me at 'Game of Thrones.' Love that show, love those books. Totally sucks that Jordan was such a douchebag and I suspect that the guy in the bookstore was more true to life than the guy on stage. Cool that he apologized but still a douche.

  5. Yeah, that's what I thought about Jordan, my buddy Dave didn't quite believe the vehemence of douche baggieness I described until he was in that bookstore with me, I just looked at him and said "Told ya"! George R.R. Martin couldn't be a sweeter man, for all his success!