a funny thing happened at the signing...

In the final few moments of the library author fair last Sunday, a woman was rushing from author to author to pick up books before we packed up. Bless her, she was buying book after book. She came to my table, looked at my array of horror and grief and misery, smiled and said, "I'm going to take a pass on you, if that's okay." I laughed and said that was fine.

And it is. Really. People largely seem to feel guilty when they just don't care for horror. I'm sure it's just politeness, because clearly I wallow in the death and pain because it gives me sadistic glee. But my work isn't for everyone. It isn't for children, it isn't for those who are prone to nightmares, it isn't for those who are squeamish about the Bad Death or emotional trauma. I wish I could write The Bridges of Madison County, because it would make a better Christmas present and my grandmother would be thrilled. But alas, my work is that of things that go chomp in the night.

I packed up and my son and I started to leave. Outside, we ran into the woman again. We smiled and nodded, and as she passed, she doubled back and said something I couldn't quite catch. Before I knew it, she had slipped a five-dollar bill into my bag and dashed back toward the library. I called after her, "Wait, don't you want a book?" She vanished.

I still am not sure what happened. Perhaps she felt guilty for not buying a book, or thought (quite erroneously) that she had been rude earlier? Perhaps we just looked hungry. At any rate, I feel like I owe her a copy of The Cold Ones, which is only six bucks and thus the closest to what she gave me.

She wasn't rude. Not at all. Rude was the guy who came up to me in 2004 when I was on tour promoting Nocturnal Urges. He looked at the undeniably-erotic cover, looked at me and said, "The only difference between this stuff and Penthouse Forum are the words, 'I never thought this would happen to me.'" He took two steps away and dropped my cover card on the floor. And yet he lives. I was mellower then.

There were the people who rewrote my biography to call me an aspiring author when my books were only available in ebook form. There are occasionally the people who lecture me as to the evils of my ways, because obviously I am a closet sadist who doesn't understand grief or loss to be writing such horrible things. There are the people who roll their eyes at a woman writing horror, because clearly it's all about the vamporn and we must have shelves full of fluffy sighing romances.

And yet they live.

I didn't know what to do with the woman's five dollars. So I asked my son what he thought we should do. He thought about it a moment, and said, "Disney jar." It's the big mason jar we decorated with Mickey Mouse stickers a few years ago, and into it goes all our spare change. When it gets full, we deposit it into our Disney Vacation account. By my reckoning, we'll have to fill the jar about 15 more times in order to afford Disneyland. Five bucks gets us a little further along that road.

So thank you, Mysterious Lady of the Library. If you see me again, I owe you a Cold Ones. It may not be your thing... but it makes a great gift.


  1. Anonymous10:46 PM

    IMO, she's a "I support art and artists" groupie...

    I'm a fan of lots of different types of music, and if I go to some venue... like a summer festival or our local farmers market often invites bands to play... If I have enough cash, and the band is selling CDs, I usually buy one. It's my way of supporting the arts and the artists.

    If I got to more cons, I'd probably be stocking up on books too, just like that woman...

    I have friends for whom that is how they pay the bills... gee, who am I talking too again? :)

    If I sat there listening to their music and enjoyed myself, I should show my appreciation...

    There is also something to meeting the artist that, for me, makes it even more significant than just "oh this is cool music, or a good book". Even if it's just hearing the performance, or a reading, or some very high level conversation - I've learned something about the artist and their relationship with their work - and that's special to me - and it gives me a different appreciation for the book, CD, piece of art, that I leave with...

    Gee - *looks back up at what I wrote* - I'm an easy fangirl I guess... :)


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