It’s always cool to instantly bond with strangers – chatting with other dog owners at the park, befriending other backpackers in a foreign country, or simply bonding with the cashier at a store. The connection is always short, but it’s often about something you’re interested in or passionate about. Last night, I was at Barnes and Noble, picking up Lee Child’s latest thriller when the cashier goes, “I’ve read all his books!” So, that was my cue to say, “Yeah, isn’t he awesome?”
So we gabbed a bit, and I tell the cashier, “He was in town recently doing book signings at the Costco in Gilbert and the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale. And I thought about going, but then I realized I’m too old to get autographs!” And once I said that, it slightly depressed me. I walked out of the bookstore, pondering what I just said and what it meant. Was I really too old? Growing up, I was an uber-fan and loved getting autographs of sports heroes and writers I admired.
When mom got me Willie Mays’ autograph in the fourth grade, it was my most prized posession until dad got me Willie McCovey’s autograph in the seventh grade. In my teens, I collected comic books and baseball cards, and got them signed. When I was 16 or 17, I wrote an eight-page letter – eight pages! – to mystery novelist Max Allan Collins, telling him how brilliant he was, how he inspired me to become a writer and how I’ve read everything he has written except his first two out-of-print paperbacks. A month later, a few days before Christmas, Collins sent me a brown package. I ripped it open, and it was copies of his first two books – and they were autographed!Read More