Briefly Meeting Camilla Gibb 20 Years Ago – Part 1

I was visiting GoodReads the other day, updating my profile as I prepare to pre-market myself as a novelist-in-process. On a whim I checked out the page of a writer whose oeuvre, and reputation, has soared over the past two decades. It turns out her debut novel (Mouthing The Words) is being re-released this year. And so I offer you my forthright, and therefore embarrassingly gushing, remembrance of briefly meeting Camilla Gibb 20 years ago.

Photo of Camilla Gibb in the late 1990's

Camilla Gibb in the late 1990’s

But first, Ms. Gibb these days is an internationally celebrated writer. She is renowned as the author of…

 This is Happy
  This is Happy

3.78 avg rating — 1,158 ratings — published 2015 — 5 editions

 The Beauty of Humanity Move...
  The Beauty of Humanity Movement

3.90 avg rating — 2,981 ratings — published 2010 — 17 editions

 Sweetness in the Belly
  Sweetness in the Belly

3.89 avg rating — 6,755 ratings — published 2005 — 25 editions

 The Petty Details of So-and...
  The Petty Details of So-and-so’s Life

3.46 avg rating — 495 ratings — published 2002 — 10 editions

 Mouthing the Words
  Mouthing the Words

3.70 avg rating — 606 ratings — published 1999 — 23 editions

 

Back in 1998 (or was it ’99?), I made my annual pilgrimage downtown to Toronto’s “Word On The Street.” It’s our glorious festival of books and literature. My own non-fiction book had been published a scant year or two before, so I felt authorized – pun intended – to attend that event, copies of my book conveniently in hand as steroid-bulked business cards.

One of the many speakers that day was a young woman whose backstory greatly impressed me. A Ph.D. in Social Anthropology. Wrote her first book sequestered away in a trailer borrowed from her brother, with just the woods and muse to sustain her. Published by one of the majors first time out. Wow!

As Ms. Gibb walked toward the podium to start her talk, I confess I was gobsmacked. Here before me was this tall, slim beauty. Her hair cascaded down her back. She sported a pair of tight black leather lace-up Boheme boots, and addressed the audience with a hint of British in her mellifluous voice (which cemented my sense of her as both erudite and exotic), the accent a vestige of her having been born “over the pond.”

It must have been 1999 because I’d already separated and had begun my divorce. Thus I felt license to ogle the debut novelist, gobbling her words, in awe at her having earned a doctorate and being published while still so young. 15 minutes into her 1/2 hour talk I was bursting to speak with her, to introduce myself, to glean her precious authorial insights, and (let’s face it) to bask in momentary connection with someone so intelligent, beguiling, and destined for literary fame in ways I knew I would never experience, given the more domesticated, traditional path I’d elected to pursue.

>>> In Part 2, I describe my actual brief encounter with Ms. Gibb, including the profound sense of elation – and searing jealousy – that tore at my mid-30’s self of yesteryear

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