Interview with an author

29 Nov

Today I interviewed an author of a crime novel published just three weeks ago. We met at Panera Bread, and I was flustered and late because two accidents on the thru-way destroyed my punctuality. I was six long minutes late, and before I walked in I saw him in the window. I knew it was him. He was cool, composed, and wore a vest over a button down, checkered shirt. He was tall, with shaggy brown hair and a relaxed manner.

We went to the counter to order, and he surprised me, telling me he’d pay. Now I considered whether this would make things awkward, him paying for me. Did he think it’d buy him a better story? Was it ethical? But then I thought, what the heck, it’s under $2, and besides, one must take advantage of the rare opportunities when people offer to buy one’s drink at Panera Bread. He wasn’t buying me a ticket on a cruise ship. So he bought me my tea, and he got a salad, and we brought them back to the table. He told me about he doesn’t care whether he’s writing fiction or nonfiction, as long as he’s writing a good story: “It’s just about the story,” he said. I nodded emphatically. I too, love good stories.

He always goes to see authors in Buffalo, he said. At 8 p.m., he was going to see Joyce Carol Oates speak at Canisius College. I was jealous. I wished I were going with this stranger to see Oates speak. At 8 p.m., I’d be seated at the Village Board meeting listening to heated discussions on crosswalks. Now I admit a certain attraction while scribbling notes and listening to the author talk about his novels. Not every day—nay, never before, in fact—had I heard a grown man talk unabashedly about his love for good stories, about a love for writing, about a love for reading. Maybe I just run in the wrong circles. But here before me was a man I hadn’t thought existed, one who loved to read and write and who was telling me all about it. “They do exist!” I thought, and my heart secretly sung.

Then he told me a bit more about his latest novel. “It’s what I consider R-rated,” he said, “lots of violence and profanity.” He took a bite of his salad. I pondered this; it was something I didn’t know prior to the interview for my family-friendly paper. “Well,” I thought, “I just won’t go into details on it.” Suddenly he seemed not so attractive as a few moments before. The bad-boy type, even the bad-boy novelist, never appealed much to me. Before we left, he told me to keep the copy of the novel resting on the table. I thanked him and tucked it into my purse. I may not like crime novels, but it’s cool getting free anything, let alone a free book and one from its author.

I said goodbye, and I admit to a certain feeling of wistfulness as I saw his shaggy brown hair round the corner. Then he popped back around, “Hey, what’s your last name?” “Spencer,” I told him. “Naomi Spencer.” I pulled out of the Panera Bread parking lot feeling more enlightened than when I have drove into it an hour before.


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