There is a reason I like to go out and talk to people about my books. Yes I like the sales, and the refreshments are often delicious. My gig last Thursday at the Burlington Antiques Club offered cheesecake and fresh fruit. The. Best. But what really got my boat afloat occurred after I finished blathering and took the opportunity to listen to the 10 people who had gathered to see me. That is when the good stuff always happens.
This time was no exception. I found out that the host of the meeting, Laurence, grew up in the same town as the Lima Ax Murderer featured in my Strange Wisconsin. And that the murderer, after he went to prison for bashing his two elderly uncles to death, faithfully sent Laurence a Christmas card every year from Waupun. Touching!
I also learned that another of the attendees was the wife of the prinicipal who hired me for my first real art-teaching job, many moons ago, and that they had been following my book publication trail. They had been making a pilgrimage around the state to key sites related to the books and she had brought their map to prove it. Seeing that was even better than the cheesecake.
This wasn’t unusual. People have told me all sorts of things at signings. One woman had a doctor’s diagram to prove she’d been molested by aliens. Many have related their family ghost stories, or that they have seen unknown, upright canines. The sweetest are those who share that their kids who never read sat down and read Weird Wisconsin or The Beast of Bray Road. Out loud. To their little brother.
Due to the inconvenience of there being only one of me, I sadly can’t attend all the events I’d like. But every time I have to say no, I wonder what I missed. What innermost secret did I fail to learn from some blessed reader?
For it really is true. Get enough cheesecake into someone, and they’ll spill their souls. With raspberry sauce.