"But I never let a fantasy get away, because I always stop to analyze it." Shelley Duvall
Charlie Bakst reading Yesterday's Fatal on a beach in Italy.
Jan: I'm not talking about sexual fantasy (sorry guys), but writer fantasy. It goes like this: You are walking through a crowded airport, or through a crowded beach, and all of a sudden you come across someone reading YOUR book.
The perfect fantasy, of course, is when you have no idea who the reader is. He/she is just one of the many fans you never knew existed. In this photo, the reader, who sent me the pic, is a friend of mine, Charlie Bakst, but he was reading my book on a beach in Italy -- so I figure that makes up for him not being a complete stranger.
Once, my daughter, who has experienced the highs and lows of my writing career, called me up from college screaming excitedly. It turned out that as she was leaving the cafeteria, she saw the clerk at the register reading my book, A Confidential Source. So although I didn't actually come across the reader myself, I get fantasy points, right?
A couple of years ago, I was speaking at a mystery brunch in on Martha's Vineyard (hosted by Edgartown Books) and Robin Cook -- yes, the best selling medical thriller writer -- made a joke of hoping to stumble across someone on South Beach reading his book. You'd figure for Robin Cook this would be an everyday reality.
So I'm curious about how widespread this fantasy thing is. Is it just Robin Cook and me (I doubt it) or do we all have a verson of this, not just writers, but artists, musicians, teachers and even lawyers??
RO: It's a rush, no doubt about it. I haven't had the book version yet, but some years ago I produced a video called Say it By Signing, for friends and family of hearing-impaired people who sign; also acquired a book on the same subject. Not a huge market, but if my book does as well, it will be champagne all around. I saw the book in the window of a small bookstore in Bar Harbor, and the video was picked up by a nationwide chain (anyone remember the dear departed Nature Company?) I was ecstatic. it didn't even matter that I didn't make a lot of dough on it...I was thrilled. I think it's the Sally Field, "you like me..you really like me" thing.
HALLIE: My fantasy was to find my books for sale at an airport or train station newsstand. One day, my daughter phoned me from the Los Angeles airport to say that she was looking at a copy of OBSESSED right there at the newsstand! Then I found out they change the book displays every 24 hours.
In a related be-careful-which-fantasy-you-wish-for scenario--I was chatting with a woman author I'd met at a conference a few years ago. I told her my book-at-the-aiport fantasy, she she told me this story. Her husband worked for Hudson News (they're the franchise that owns all the newsstands in airports, Grand Central...) and he was able to use his muscle to get HN to order up 300,000 copies of her first paperback novel. She was ECSTATIC. The publisher was ecstatic, too. 100,000 copies were sold. Pretty great, right? BUT (and this is a very big "but") 200,000 copies were returned. This was very bad news for the publisher because they lost a huge chunk of change, and it was the last novel she did with them.
HANK: Here's a fantasy come true: look at this photo of my Prime Time as one of the staff favorites at the wonderful Willow Books in Acton MA. (Whoo hoo. See it? Right in the middle, top shelf?) Now, as for my next big fantasy: please all of you take a moment to send good karma that I make the deadline for Air Time. I'm not even going to tell you when it is...it's all too scary. Back to to reality.
JAN: So aside from the obvious ones -- book gets made into Oscar-winning movie -or making the NYT bestsellers list - I'm curious to hear about other writer fantasies. Also, the comparable career fantasy in other fields! There must be a chef fantasy, salesman-of-the-year-fantasy, and dermatologist fantasy, right?