Catnapped and Doggone
Do I ever get star-struck? I’d like to pretend that I never, ever lose my cool, but I was a fan, a reader, a rabid devourer of literature long before my first book made it into print. Being in the same room as some of the people whose pictures smile at me from the back covers sitting on my bed stand honestly gives me chills. Naturally, I’m excluding those authors who are already dead. I’d still get chills but they’d be a whole different kind of physiological response and, an entirely new genre.
Harlan Coben was at Bouchercon a couple of years ago. I love his stuff, both the Myron Bolitar series and the stand alones. I particularly like how he’ll take a minor character in one book and give them a starring role in a completely new story or vice versa. So, I got my chance. He was on a panel just ahead of a panel I was doing. The line to talk to him was around the block. I stood. I waited. And waited. He was incredibly generous with his time and, I suppose, his wisdom although I was too far back to hear. I got close enough to tell that he is taller sitting down than I am standing on a box. Then, nature called. Loudly. I could abandon my post and speak on my own panel in relative comfort or I could meet “the man” and ask the embarrassing question that had plagued me since I first read an interview with him years before. What can I say? I’m weak and so is my bladder. I never did get to meet him. He was always surrounded by people and I just couldn’t think of an articulate lead-in to what I really wanted to know. I was dying to know …and missed my chance to find out...if he’d kept in touch with the roommate who’d been the inspiration for Win Lockwood. Him I’d really like to meet. In the end, it was a little too literati eHarmony with witnesses for my comfort level. Too bad since I’ve got a penchant for the true psychos.
Unlike my spineless Coben debacle, I did introduce myself to Janet Evanovich at the MWA Edgar symposium several years ago. She’s the size of my thumb. Very tiny but a ball of energy even from across the room. I felt we were kindred spirits based mostly on the two most obvious things we have in common, smart mouths and red hair. I wanted to ask about her agent, how she’d redefined mystery and broken out of the romance mode. When it came time, however, I asked about her shoes. She was wearing basic white sneakers. I hadn’t seen them while I’d been awaiting my turn and was so shocked to see Stephanie Plum’s alter ego in Keds that I blurted it out. “What’s with the shoes?” Deadpan, she told me she was going bra shopping and wanted to be comfortable while doing it. A smarter, faster brain than mine would have had a comeback or at least been able to process the information. I must admit, I was flummoxed. Yes, flummoxed. Not a state I generally find myself in. I did suggest Nordstroms had a nice selection. She could have been messing with me. Or she could just have been a woman in need of undergarments. The magic that is Janet Evanovich left me never knowing which. Even now, I laugh, thinking about it. I’ve even incorporated it into my own non-sequitor repartee. When asked, by someone who clearly couldn’t care less, what I’m up to I say ‘bra shopping.’ By the time my response is processed, I’m striding away in my comfortable shoes. Hey, I'm living in the Pacific Northwest. Berkenstocks are considered high fashion.
Final confession. I, like every writer trying to get to that moment when writing might actually be enough to provide three square meals a day, am stalking Oprah Winfrey. I don’t write Oprah book club books. Not the ones she used to pick or the more recent crop of non-fiction or classics. I haven’t even read many of the ones that have received the magical nod. But I want people to read what I write. When she says the word, millions hear her. And she’s still reading. In a world where she’s made billions on television, she clearly still fondles the pages of her favorite dog-eared books. Just like her audience. I would love people to read my books or stories but I’d be happy just to say thank you for keeping reading cool. It matters to every author. It matters to every reader. And I am, as always, both.
Thanks for reading today.