Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Meeting our Heroes

This week seems to taking on a theme of meeting one's hero. Which I hesitate to add, might be an animal, Linda. I totally get that. Although my cat seems to cause me more stress than not, I'm glad she's around.

Meeting an author can be life changing. It was for me.

I'd dreamt about writing a novel for years and finally got around to it in 1989, after a job layoff and the purchase of a new computer. I wrote a romance because I had no access to a writing community but I did own a copy of "How to Write a Romance" by Kathyrn Falk. Not surprisingly, that novel got written but was never published.

I put the manuscript and my ambition in a box in the attic. But the idea of writing never went away. I wanted to write a book. When I moved to California, I attended a library event featuring a talk with Laurie R. King. I was/am a big fan of her Kate Martinelli series, set in San Francisco. Since then I've discovered her own books as well and am always happy to have a Laurie R. King book in my hand.

At the Santa Clara library, Laurie was gracious, thoughtful, and absolutely approachable. And most important to me, real. She had a husband and kids and managed to write lovely books while tending to it all. She told us about her writing process (in those days, handwritten pages while kids were at school) and the long research trips taken in the summer with her professor husband.

That was a big moment in my life because it was then that I realized I, too, could have a life as an author. Laurie R. King was just folks.

The last time I saw Laurie was a few weeks ago at Bouchercon, where she was the honored author. She was cooing over the paper napkins embellished with her name, and admitting that she isn't always recognized despite being in the mystery business for over 20 years. She's still just regular folk.

So authors, know that your presence can be a life-changer. And fans, don't hesitate to talk to your favorite authors. They rely on you to keep them connected to the real world.

Got a good story about meeting your hero? Let's hear it.


Linda O. Johnston said...

Guess I didn't consider my post on pets as following the hero theme, Terri, but that does make sense. My pet-related heroes also include the people who rescue animals from bad situations. My writing heroes seem to change from time to time. Right now they include my fellow Killer Hobbyists!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Gee, I hadn't meant to create a theme, but we've found one, haven't we? I sent Laurie an email some months ago about a place I'd visited in England that reminded me of a setting in one of her books. She was gracious enough to respond. She is a lovely woman, so erudite and very approachable.

As for pet heros, my three-legged dog Rafferty certainly qualifies. Yesterday a little boy coming home from school saw Raffi, and asked me, "Isn't he angry? Because he only has three legs?" And I told him that Raffi was a great example of what you do when something bad happens to you. You pick yourself up, concentrate on what's good, and keep going.

Dru said...

I love talking to all my favorite authors. The ones that I've met have taken me out of my comfort zone. Next week, I'm having lunch with my author friend who's coming into the city. It will be fun.

Linda O. Johnston said...

In response to Joanna's comment, brave pets are definitely heroes, too! How great that Raffi does so well on three legs, and I love your response to that little boy, Joanna. My Lexie, star of my Kendra Ballantyne Pet-Sitter mystery series, came down with vestibular disease a few months ago that has left her lopsided--but she doesn't know she has any problems. She just ran up some steps I try to keep her away from to avoid falls and did just fine.

Terri Thayer said...

There heroes everywhere we look. It's nice to take a moment and acknowledge them.

Dru, enjoy your lunch!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Dru, last year I had lunch with five of my fans in Pittsburgh. We had a total blast. I hope you and your author pal have as much fun as we did!

Linda, it's amazing to watch our pets and realize they live in the moment. No regrets. No guilt. No worries. Just NOW.

NL Gassert said...

I met Joanna at the Manhattan Mystery Conclave two years ago and she was very gracious and approachable. Just regular folks, to steal your line. It’s always great to meet other authors and realize they are just people.


Betty Hechtman said...

I always look at authors I meet with a certain reference. To think that all those words and that story came out of their imagination. Wow! And I think it is so exciting to go into a bookstore and see books by authors I've met or know.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

That's awfully nice of you to say, Nadja. I thought the same about you!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Betty, I count it as one my biggest pleasures--going into a bookstore and thinking, "I've met her and him and her...." It gives me great confidence that I can do this thing, especially on those days when I don't seem to be making much headway.