Monday, June 25, 2018

Two special guests at a special speaking event

On 6/14/18, I did something old and new at the same time.

I gave my talk about the often-tragic backstories of Superman and Batman at the Raue Center for the Arts, a performance venue in Crystal Lake, IL that has hosted notables from David Sedaris to Rick Springfield.

I've delivered a version of this presentation so many times, but never quite like this. That is to say that I've done evening events, I've done events where people actually paid to hear me speak, and I've done events in beautiful settings—but never, as far as I can recall, all at once. (And certainly never on a stage that has featured Los Lobos.)

Like many authors, I tend to go into events like this with low expectations (so as not to be disappointed if no one shows). The hall—originally a 1920s vaudeville theater, then a cinema—was not filled, but I was happy with the 50 or so people who attended.

Two in particular.

One was Lee Ann Marie, one of the women whom I interviewed because she appeared in a popular 1980s music video, Survivor's "I Can't Hold Back" (1984).

She could not stay for the talk but made a special surprise trip—with her mom—to say hi since she and I had not yet met in person. About 30 minutes before showtime, before the audience was let in, she walked down one of the unlit aisles of the Raue to introduce herself. It almost reminded me of one of her scenes from the video (see second black-and-white photo at that link)—sans smoke, of course.

It was so lovely to see her and meet her mother.

I knew in advance that the other special guest would be there, but that made it no less special. Her name is Hannah Klamecki. In 2007, she survived two days alone in the woods. She was 5 years old. In my 2010 book Vanished: True Stories of the Missing, I told her story.

In 2012, when she was 11, I met her for the first time

The Raue marked the second time I've seen her (and her wonderful parents, Mike and Carol) in person...and it was, by chance, the eve of the 11th anniversary of her rescue.

She's got a boyfriend, a nose ring, an admirable sense of self, and college plans. Oh, and she's got several inches on me.

I'm so proud of the person she's become and so honored that in telling her story, her family have become my friends.

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