Belatedly I wanted to comment on Brian Jacques, the author of the Redwall series, who died in February. I would not have read his books had I not been working at Berkley, which at that time was one of his publishers. When I learned he was coming to the US to tour for a new book (sometime in 1995, I believe), I read Redwall and the first sequel, and was fortunate enough to have a memorable lunch with him and several of my colleagues. He was very warm and outgoing. Not surprisingly, I was the only one who had read his books, which he appreciated, and we joked about how he had named one of his characters, a badger, Constance, and I said I was glad not to have been a rat. He wrote a nice inscription in the hardcover I had brought with me, asserting that I was more attractive than my badger counterpart. We took him to a fancy steakhouse, Morton’s on Fifth Avenue, where my portion of steak was large enough to have fed my entire family growing up, and we all commented that the huge bowl of spinach was every child’s worst nightmare!
Brian, perhaps guessing that many Americans have a fascination with the British Royal Family, told us that recently he had met Queen Elizabeth when she visited Liverpool, and shaken her hand (I guess people don’t bow much any more!). He then shook hands with all of us, and told us half solemnly, half seriously, “Now you are just once removed from touching the Queen of England!” Anglophile that I am, this gave me a thrill! I hope I still have my autographed book - I have not seen it recently, but there are still a lot of books in boxes.