Nicholas Sparks,who wrote "The Notebook," was the first author that I met through a book signing. I had never been to a signing before but when I saw a poster at a book store that he was coming, I thought 'why not'? Though I hadn't read his book, I had just seen him on Oprah and was enchanted by the man.
It was a long drive but the night came and I joined the relatively small group of about 15 people at the store. I was quite surprised there weren't more. He read some from the book and then opened the floor for questions. When asked how he captured the thoughts so well of an elderly man still deeply in love, he told a personal story.
It seems when he and his wife got married, her grandparents could not attend the wedding due to health reasons. When the happy couple got back from the honeymoon, they dressed in their wedding clothes and went to visit the grandparents to reenact the wedding, which I thought was adorable and thoughtful.
Nicholas said as he watched the elderly couple, he was delighted to see them actually flirting with each other. Most of us growing up tend to think love is replaced by habit and comfort in the elderly. He saw much more and was able to relate that enduring love so beautifully in the book.
Anyway, I came away a fan of his with a signed copy of "The Notebook."
It made me, as a writer wanna-be at that time, to think about meeting and talking to more writers.
My next author meeting was Patrick Smith who had all ready made me a fan with his book, "A Land Remembered." This is a marvelous saga covering the journeys of several generations of Florida settlers who went from early, very primitive cattle ranching, to oranges groves, and eventually becoming land magnates.
Patrick was a fine writer who had been nominated three times for the Pulitzer prize, 5 times for the Nobel Prize for literature and is a member of the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. That is quite a pedigree.
So when I saw he was going to have a book signing at a The Desert Inn, a quaint restaurant in Yeehaw Junction, I knew I would be there. Yeehaw Junction is a nondescript, literal cross roads in middle Florida. It sports 4 buildings with the closest town being 30 miles away. I couldn't believe my luck. It was only a 10 mile drive for me and I could replace my paper back with a signed hard copy.
I am sure he chose this location for its historical value.
We always enjoyed the Inn for its colorful history. It was an interesting and amusing place to eat and to take out of town company.
|Yes, chickens, including this cranky one, strolled around the property.|
One thing he told me that rather stirred my interest was that the early settlers who drove their cattle to a lower west coast port in Florida to be transported to Cuba, were paid in gold. With very few places to spend money of any sort, the settlers buried the excess in the ground by their homesites.
This brought up the possibilities of buried treasure in unknown spots around the state. He said if you could find the remnants of an old homestead, wonderful possibilities existed. While I later dug a couple hundred holes around my rural property which had a long history, I eventually gave up. I found nothing but a new set of blisters.
However as our visit lengthened, it dawned on me that I might possibly be the only one coming to the signing. Just me and a bad tempered chicken. Selfishly I was delighted to have had his undivided attention for almost an hour and I picked his brain raw but I felt sad for him at the meager turnout. He deserved so much better.
Eventually, a young couple wandered up, curious about the signs. I told the young couple how lucky they were, thanked Mr. Smith and left with my signed copy. I hoped many more would follow but had my doubts. I think writers must learn to develop thick skins. Even the great sometimes have poor turn outs. In this case, I am sure the problem was location, location.
I ended up reading all his books and was quite saddened to learn Patrick died last year at 86. I feel so blessed to have had that time with him.
Have you ever met an author you enjoyed and did you come away impressed or disappointed??