The first year of The Exact Place being out there is done. There were a few fleeting moments when I thought this could turn into something big. I should probably thank my mother, my editor and the few I blackmailed for making it Kalos Press’ best seller.
Last November I was the featured author at the Warroad Public Library Book Festival. Flying up to Warroad on the Marvin Windows and Doors’ corporate jet was much more awesome when I didn’t know they were obliged to fly me because they underwrite the library’s budget.
After a short introduction and a reading, I gave time for questions and conversation. It was uncomfortably quiet as I waited for the small crowd to say something, hoping that, please God, I could deal with locals who knew some of the people and places I named. I was relieved when a teenage girl finally raised her hand. I smiled encouragingly.
“I really like your shoes. Where did you get them?” I’m not lying; that was the first question. I gripped the podium to keep from laughing hysterically. If I had any grandiose feelings of literary accomplishment this is where they were cropped.
Later as I was signing books, a man came up and said, you don’t recognize me do you? It was Hal Bitzer on whom I had a terrible crush in third grade and quoted, referring to the weekly Friday cafeteria menu of baked salmon cakes with gravy: “It looks like puke and tastes like dog poop.” I hadn’t seen him since 4th grade. It was fun to give him a huge hug and feel no crush at all!
This past weekend I did a reading in the home of Bekah and Keith Jones, friends from St. Paul. Among those attending were the Bademans, who had made it their Family Date Night. They had no idea if it would appeal to their two daughters ages 9-11, so had advised them that if the book seemed interesting, they should pull on an ear indicating a desire to buy a copy. While I read, Denis noticed the two girls yanking their ears and giving intense stares at their mother. He thought perhaps they were signaling: “Let’s get outta here now.” To have children get my book is a deep and rich blessing I didn’t expect.