Just because Thanksgiving Thursday has passed by doesn’t mean I’m done being thankful. In fact, since today is a day “off” (although I started at 3am instead of my usual 4), I figured today would be a good day to run through one of the larger groups I need to appreciate: the wonderful group of writers I’ve been able to meet over the course of the year.
Let’s face it, my day job is…adversarial. Even in the best situations, it’s hard to “like” the team of lawyers on the other side of a litigation, at least until it’s over. And most lawyers I’ve met have tended to be on the cynical side–we’re always on the lookout for how someone might try to screw us over.
The writers I’ve met have been the exact opposite. Maybe it’s because this profession draws a different personality type; maybe it’s because you have to overcome so much rejection to get anywhere. But whatever the reason, everyone I’ve met or worked with has been incredibly supportive and welcoming.
Start with Katherine Lewis. A journalist with a thousand (well-deserved) accolades writing nonfiction, she had zero reason to talk to me other than we went to the same high school years ago. But when I contacted her with a question, she immediately made time for me in her busy schedule. Although her book “The Good News About Bad Behavior” was already in process and she had a million things on her plate, we ended up talking about writing and our kids and balancing our crazy schedules. We had so many conversations, in fact, we ended up writing an article about them. But if she hadn’t been so gracious with her time in the first place, none of that would have ever happened.
Okay, you’re thinking, but she knew you beforehand. (If you’d known me in high school, that might not mean as much as you think.) But it wasn’t just her. Take blurbs–they’re a must when you’re getting your book ready to launch, but if you don’t know anyone, how do you ask them to read your book? I completely lucked out–between my editor and my agent, we were able to approach four authors I respect tremendously with the manuscript. But that left me even more nervous. Would they actually read it? If they did, would they like it?
I was absolutely floored at their reaction: every single one said yes, without batting an eye. Raymond Benson–the guy’s written James Bond, what’s he doing reading a book about Seth Walker? James W. Hall–the guy’s won an Edgar award AND a Shamus award. Alan Russell, best seller. Chad Zunker, best seller.
And here’s the craziest thing–they’re even better people when you get to meet them in person! Alan lives not too far away–the very first time we met, he brought me fresh tomatoes from his garden. I ended up in Austin for work and asked Chad if he’d like to grab lunch; we ended up talking about our kids and plot twists and everything else under the sun for about 3 hours.
The rest of the year, it just kept going that way. Considering how books are sometimes judged against one another, I was a little hesitant going into the debut author panel at Thrillerfest–I figured people would be aloof and measuring the “competition.” But there was absolutely none of that. The first two people I ran into were Ellison Cooper and Lissa Marie Redmond–we walked down 42nd Street trading stories like we’d known each other for years. (Both of their debut books are fantastic, BTW.). The folks who organized all the debut author festivities–Shaun Harris, Adam Hamdy, Elena Hartwell–they just volunteered to do it. Because they’re nice!
And the other Thomas & Mercer authors are a particularly special crew. Whether it’s moderating a space where we can all stay connected (Lee Goldberg), spontaneously introducing themselves to make you feel welcome (Hilary Davidson, Matt Farrell, Danielle Girard), inviting you to a party and introducing you around (Matthew FitzSimmons), or staying in touch online (William Myers Jr., Bryan Gruley, Simon Gervais), every single one of them has been a nicer person than they are a talented writer, and that’s saying a ton!
This post may seem like it’s devolved into name-dropping, but I don’t mean it that way at all. This is all just a very long-winded way of saying how grateful I am that all of these people have been so welcoming and supportive, and for the dozens of ways they’ve all proven to be so kind. Thanks to all of them (and anybody I missed, too)!