Thursday, September 26, 2013

A born storyteller.

Following on from Clare's Bouchercon-inspired post yesterday, I'm going to share an "are you a writer" conversation I fell into at the bar.

So I was at the bar and, as anyone who attended Bouchercon will confirm, that left plenty of time for a long chat.  (2 barstaff, one on his first day (yes, really) and a whole lot of crimewriters and fans.)   A guy sitting on the nearest stool to where I was waving a 20 and pining for a club soda said the line.

Guy: "Are you a crimewriter?'
Me: "I am.  You?"
Guy: "Yup."  (Slight alarm bell in the distance, since he was wearing one of those 1930s Chicago- style caps, at a very jaunty angle, and was chewing a toothpick as if there was a teeny weeny little baton twirler practising in his mouth.  In other words, he looked a bit too cool to be one of us.  Like when Lou Diamond Phillips turned up at Left Coast Crime; even from the back you knew he wasn't a writer.)
Me: "What do you write?"
Guy: "Oh, I'm prolific.  What do you write?"
Me: "1920s amateur sleuth novels.  And a stand-alone."
Guy: "Novels?  Books?  Wow.  How many?"
Me: (thinks) "Eleven."
Guy: (whistles).  "Hot damn."
Me: "So . . . are you a short story writer. (Because why are novels so surprising?)
Guy: "Short, long, real long.  I do it all."
Me: "What's your name?"
Guy: "My real name or my pseudonym?"
Me: "Are you on a panel this weekend?  Because this witness protection programme stuff isn't going to fly."
Guy: "Okay, my name - and you better get ready for this - is Stephen King."
Me: "Oh. Yeah, well, good idea changing it.  Or even Steve King would do, so your mother could still be proud sort of idea."
Guy: "No, Stephen King is my nom de plume.  That white guy in Maine?  He's my assistant.  He does the travelling and I do the writing."
Me: "Uh-huh."
Guy: (turning to the man eating his burger and fries on the next stool along) "And this is my beautiful wife, Tabitha."
Me: (getting it finally) "Well, it's a great honour to meet you, Mr King.  I'm a  huge fan."
Guy: "I'm just messing with you.  I clean the windows in this place.  You really a Stephen King fan?"
Me: "A huge one.  All of them - the early stuff and the late stuff.  I loved Dumas Key."
Guy: "Oh, yeah!  LOVED Dumas Key.  Scared the bejesus out of me,  Dolls!"
Me: "Oh my God, yeah.  Dolls.  Dolls and creepy little dead kids scampering around."
Guy: "With the footprints?  Brrrr.  How about Lisey's Story?"

And then the time passed very pleasantly, looking forward to the Shining sequel and arguing about the Dark Tower and I learned that a. books are a universal language, b. my basic setting is "taking a basket of food through the woods to grandma's house" and c. window-cleaners are cooler looking than crimewriters.  At least in New York.


Clare ODonohue said...

So that's who that guy was! I knew he couldn't be a writer for the very same reason you cited - he looked too cool.

Catriona McPherson said...


Meredith Cole said...

Ha! Just because we occasionally scare the UPS man with our sweatpants and uncombed hair doesn't mean we writers don't clean up pretty good when we make it out of the house...

Lori said...

Catriona, let me get this straight. From the BACK, you can tell Lou Diamond Phillips isn't a writer?

Catriona McPherson said...

Oh, yeah. He doesn't have typer's bum spread. Not that I looked.

Lisa Alber said...

Hilarious! How'd you keep a straight face? Some guy says he's Stephen King, and I'm immediately wondering, What kind of meds you on, and if take one can I be Tess Gerritsen?