Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The real reward

I was in the central library today looking at the mysteries when I saw a guy who was probably late sixties, early seventies smiling over at me from the other side of the new books display. My memory being what it is, I wasn't sure if I knew him or not. He asked me when the next Sam McCain book was coming out and I told him soon. He then did a kind of highlights reel of his favorite McCain scenes in the first six books. He literally knew much more about the novels than I did. He said that even though we were of different generations, McCain's adventures were enough like his own that reading the books was like getting in a time machine and going back to the Fifties and early Sixties. He said that his wife loved them, too, and that now they're going to start reading Carol's books also.

My pleasure as a writer has always been the writing itself. That's the real reward. The business side is just that--business. Not a great ordeal. But not much fun, either, especially the self-promotional aspects that have now become so necessary. For writers like me--and there are a lot more than most folks realize--self-promotion is an embarrassment. For writers who enjoy it, great. But for those of us who'd rather stay home...not so great.

But it is fun to run into a reader occasionally and talk about what he or she likes/dislikes about your books and inquires about what lies ahead for the characters. I always wanted to tell Henry Gregor Felsen how much his hot rod books meant to me while I was growing up. We lived reasonably close to each other but somehow I never had the chance to meet him. Maybe I should've found out what library he frequented and stood by the new books display.


mybillcrider said...

I loved those hot rod books by Henry Gregor Felsen. I re-read one a few years ago, and it was just as good as I remembered. Other people must like them, too. They always attract good bids on eBay.

James Reasoner said...

We read CRASH CLUB by Felsen in my freshman English class in high school. Great book. One of the nicest things about being a writer is that I've been able to meet or at least correspond with many of the authors I read with great pleasure as a kid and tell them how much their work meant to me.

Anonymous said...

I remember Felsen, too...I read more of William Campbell Gault's sports fiction as a kid, but read a bit of Felsen's as well. Which, I guess, fits in with Bill's eBay note.

I've tended to avoid potentially bothering writers, except at my infrequent convention visits.

Anonymous said...

On behalf of Hank, thank you for saying how much his car books meant to you growing up. Hank loved hearing from readers and took the time to answer every letter. When we moved to Vermont in 1976, we buried three packed garbage bags of all the fan mail collected over the years, we simply didn't have room for them.
There is a company now bidding for the rights to all the car books. Perhaps they will become available again which would really have pleased him.
Thanks again
Karen L. Felsen