Fire in the Hole

Continuing my reports from the 2008 Winter SCBWI conference in New York City:

Fire in the Hole

Jennifer Hunt, Executive Editor, Little Brown Books
Molly O’Neill, Assistant Editor, Bowen Press
Reports on other blogs about the 2008 conference.

There we were in the New York Hilton, New York City, NY, excited about the beginning of the Winter SCBWI conference. My roommate, Carla, were dressed by eight and at the elevator to go downstairs for breakfast. But the elevator didn’t come. Using a house phone by the elevator someone called to find out what was happening: security said the elevators were off line, but should be back in about five minutes. OK. We could wait. The conference didn’t begin until 9 am.

But then, some asked, “Do you hear alarms going off?”

Vaguely, in the distance, we heard something. Searching for the source, we went to the stairwell and heard fire alarms. The alarm wasn’t sounding on our floor, the 26th floor for some reason, but it was definitely sounding elsewhere. With the elevators inoperable, we had no choice. We started the descent. Quickly, the stairwells filled with a steady stream of jittery people walking steadily downward.

Now, an announcement blared and was replayed at regular intervals: Can I have your attention, please. We have received an alarm. It is currently being investigated and we will give you more information when it is available.

Meanwhile, we went downward. Now, I’m in good shape, walking a couple miles a day most of the time. But after a while, my knees (my weakness!) were getting shaky. Stark, uninteresting walls, peeling paint, dust balls, and nervous people. Downward. Until we finally emerged into the lobby. Outside were fire trucks and New York’s Finest were on the scene investigating.

Carla and I had our breakfast and just before the conference was supposed to start at 9 am, the All-Clear was sounded. Apparently there had been, as Lin Oliver put it, “A Fire in the Hole” somewhere in the building. But it was quickly contained and there had been no real danger.

Still–what an exciting start to the New York SCBWI conference!

Next: Editor reports

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