One may think that an author’s delight might be the completion of a new story. You would be correct. Or, you might think that the author’s delight is returning from a book-signing event with a significant profit. Again you would be right. And it’s always a delight to hold a new book in your hands for the first time. This year I’ve experienced all of the above and, as tedious as I know it will be, I hope for the same experiences in 2020.
However, last night I had a delight unlike most. I enjoy talking about my books, about writing, and almost any topic I’m invited to speak on. A few weeks ago I spoke to the ‘Range Genealogical Society’ at their monthly meeting at the Eveleth library. My topic was “On becoming a Ranger” and it was fun to review my life on the Range as an older man who happened to have been born in Duluth. In my younger days in Hoyt Lakes, where I graduated high school, I was considered a ‘pack-sacker’ by my new classmates from Aurora. I didn’t like it but realized the deep feelings that those born on the Range have about being unique. It is an interesting topic and my audience was divided on the legitimacy of my considering myself a ‘Ranger’.
Last night I was invited to speak at the Lyric Center for the Arts in Virginia. It was terribly cold and a few people came simply to purchase my new book and have it signed. I encouraged them to stick around for a few minutes and talk about the new story. The group swelled to about twelve to enjoy a cup of coffee and conversation. I quickly learned that most had read all of my books over the years — all thirteen previous novels! (I’m always flattered about that, but especially so in the relaxed setting of the Lyric). I gave a brief presentation on ‘Lester’s Gift’ and why I wrote it. There were several questions about the writing life which was expected. But then a lady asked, “What happened to Lucy?” Lucy was a character in several recent novels.
“She met with a terrible death,” was the best I could say. Then is became obvious to her and her husband that they had missed a book. “That’s not possible,” the wife insisted. “I’ve read every one of your books.”
After explaining the circumstances surrounding Lucy’s death it became obvious that the missing book was last year’s drama: ‘Waiting’. Over the course of an hour or so we talked about other books and other characters in the stories. That’s what was fun. No, that was delightful.
On the drive back to Hibbing I had good feelings about myself. I have brought a sense of joy, intrigue, drama and every human emotion to many people. I’ve often said that ‘I write to be read . . . and, hopefully, enjoyed. Last night I received some needed feedback and for that, I am both grateful and delighted.