Thank You Dave Barry
Some of my favorite events to attend are book signings. I've always been a big fan of books and reading. Sadly the older I get the less I read merely due to lack of focus and laziness. And my TV and movie obsession doesn't help too. BUT, I still love it. And I love getting to meet the authors, hear them talk about their craft and tell great stories. It's always entertaining and the people watching at the signings are a nice added bonus too.
I remember my first book signing even though it feels like it was a million years ago now because it was actually 12 years ago - sheesh, I am getting really old!
It was October 2003. I was working for the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau in downtown Scottsdale. I found this really awesome mystery bookstore, The Poisoned Pen, near my office and had been frequenting it at lunch and after work for a few months prior.
The mystery genre had always been my favorite to read. I love a good whodunit. Clear back to when I was young and reading novels by Christopher Pike , mysteries were always my favorite to find and get lost in.
Happening into The Poisoned Pen was like my mystery nirvana. Floor to ceiling mystery novels just waiting to be discovered. I couldn't believe it took me that many years to find it, after having lived in the Phoenix area since August 1996. And, when I discovered that they kept a full calendar of book signings, I was even more intrigued. I had never been to a signing and as I've mentioned before, having grown up in a small town, I was always starstruck by celebrities. So meeting famous authors AND getting a signed copy of their latest book was a no-brainer. Plus, I got my degree in journalism so anything related to writing was an A+ in my book, pun intended.
The day I saw on their calendar that Dave Barry was going to be signing his new mystery novel, I'm fairly certain my heart skipped a beat, even as cheesy as that sounds. I had been following Dave for literally my entire life, or at least the part from when I learned how to read to present day.
I remember racing to the kitchen on Sunday mornings to rip the Life/Entertainment section out of our local very small newspaper that my dad would be reading in order to devour Dave's latest syndicated column from the Miami Herald. He was my writing inspiration as the most awesome humorist I feel the news world has ever had. You could probably argue there are other writers that are better but Dave was and is the bomb. I read all his books and laughed until I hurt at his humor. I couldn't believe that he had ventured out into the mystery category and penned a new book AND was coming to town too! I was a giddy book nerd!
I purchased the book ahead of time and got a ticket for the signing. I was told to arrive by a certain time and that it was first come first serve for seating. I remember leaving work early so that I could be there even earlier than the time they told me to arrive and I literally was the first person to take a seat, hours before the signing, right up front, like the true stalker fan I was quickly becoming. I didn't bring other books or things for him to sign - I decided to only have him sign his new novel. That seemed right and slightly less psycho-fan-esque even though I had to fight off the urge to bring all his books and make him personalize them all to his Numero Uno fan.
It ended up being a packed house with standing room only, as you can imagine. But I had the best seat in the house, sitting starry-eyed and hanging on his every humorist word. It was everything I had hoped for and then some.
I couldn't think of anything smart and funny to say when I had him sign my book - happens to me often because I go to a lot of book signings and still don't know what to say that doesn't sound like you're trying too hard AND you're just like the last few thousand people who tried to do the same thing. Just a simple thank you and how much I have enjoyed his work over the years was what I told him. I do also remember telling him I wanted to be a humor writer like him and hoped to pen some novels someday too. Still working on that goal but you never can tell. This blog is one step closer.
That book signing was the start of years of more that I've attended and will write about in future posts. It's become a bit of an obsession really but I love it and more importantly, I really love supporting local businesses like The Poisoned Pen and my other favorite, Changing Hands. Bookstores are getting killed off left and right because of Amazon so the more I can do my little part the better. And the reward of getting to see really amazing authors is worth the price of admission and then some.
P.S. This post is dedicated to my good friend, Raj, who recently accepted a marketing gig with The Poisoned Pen Press. I couldn't be happier for him and can't wait to see him at the next book signing/stalking on my calendar.