Yesterday was my signing at the Barnes & Noble in my hometown. Before it began, I was so nervous. What if no one came? What if I spent three hours smiling at everyone who came in the door, but didn’t sell a single book? What if, what if, what if?
Instead, the afternoon was nothing but lovely. My friend Martha Allard, to whom The Dangerous Type is dedicated, took the afternoon off so she could sit with me at the table. She didn’t want me to be uncomfortable. I said if she was going to sit there, she should sell the anthology of faerie stories she edited. (Spoiler alert: I also have a story in Out of the Green.) Then she brought me flowers — white daisies, my favorite!
So…friends from high school became to arrive almost at once. They drove in from Ann Arbor and Lansing (both an hour away). They took time off from work to drop by. They hung out to chat with me and each other. They brought their kids.
It was so amazing that I’m kind of stumped for words. I didn’t know anyone remembered me from high school. It was a long time ago and I lived so much in my head. I was really, really touched.
We reminisced about the books we read in high school, the days when we would carry around two novels at a time in case we finished one. We talked about the sunny summer weeks we played D&D. I remembered sitting in classes with two notebooks open in front of me: one for taking notes, one for the story I was working on at the time.
My high school creative writing teacher came by. She was the first person to tell me that I could be a writer for real, that I could really do this thing instead of just dreaming about it. She mentored me for a semester of one-on-one fiction writing and forced me to get into the habit of writing seriously every day. She let me student teach in her creative writing class. She changed my life. That she still remembers me…priceless.
People from the Flint Area Writers — people who talk me to polish my work, who taught me to write on a sentence-by-sentence, word-by-word level — bought the book.
The founder of Ladies of Horror, a Facebook group I’ve enthused about here before, came out of her way to buy our books. Jaime is my role model for how to behave on the internet — and in person, too. I am so inspired by her.
To top it all off, a whole bunch of the store’s employees bought copies of the book. Greg bought a second copy because he’d forgotten to bring the first in to be signed. I mean, these are people swimming in books. They work with books all day long. That they would choose my book amongst all the possibilities…
It was an incredible day. It stands in complete contrast to all those days I sat alone in my office, under pressure to meet my deadlines, missing out on chaperoning field trips, getting up early at my parents’ house over Christmas so I could write for an hour because I couldn’t afford to miss a day,working through school vacations, sending my family out on adventures on the weekends so I could squeeze out a few more hours of writing time… I worked so long and so hard and in such a fever of terror that the book wouldn’t sell — and then there was yesterday. I hope each person understood how much I appreciated their support.
Mart and I got down to having one book left each. We agreed that we would sit at the table until the last books sold, then we’d go get an early dinner.
Our friend Brian was hanging out with us. Brian’s my co-writer on As Above, So Below. He’s been reading my work for 30 years. He’s the one to whom I dedicated the second book in this series, Kill By Numbers. Brian swept up the last copy of The Dangerous Type and Out of the Green and charged off into the store, telling us to pack up. Then he bought the last copies of both books. I truly have the best friends.
A heartfelt thank you to everyone who came by the store yesterday, everyone who bought books, and everyone else who shared the announcement and passed the invitations along. You are the best.