One of my favorite things about publishing a novel—aside from the international stardom and incalculable wealth—is that I’ve had the opportunity to call in and speak with book clubs around the country.
I’ve done it maybe a dozen times now over the last year and a half, and it’s always a good time. I say hello and try to sound literary, and then the group tells me a bit about their reaction to my book and then asks me questions.
Each group seems to ask a question that I’ve never been asked before—often about something I’ve never even thought about. But there are a handful of questions that come up a lot, and one of those relates to whether or not I ever encounter my fictional characters in real life.
Some context here. Tom Violet, the main character in my novel Domestic Violets, is haunted by this phenomenon throughout the book. Tom is himself a struggling writer, and he sees his own characters, like ghosts, at key moments in the plot of Domestic Violets.
As a writer, it’s always seemed romantic that I’d see the people I write about wandering around in real life. But it had never actually happened to me before. That is…until last week.
I’d dropped my daughters off with their nanny and was in my car working my way through downtown Baltimore on the way to work. The weather was crappy, which wasn’t helping, and I was listening to covers of Beatles songs. And suddenly, there he was. His name is Andy Carter, and he was walking out of a Dunkin Donuts with a cup of coffee. He looked at me—if just for a second, probably because I was a random guy stopped dead at a red light staring at him—and then he flipped up the hood of his rain jacket and walked across the street.
He didn’t look back at me. The light eventually turned green and I started inching forward again. It was pretty obvious that he wanted to though.
“Hey,” he would have said. “Hey, you. Do us both a big favor and quit looking at pictures of Frowny Cat online and help me figure out my fucking life. Seriously, man…it’s a cat that frowns. Ha-ha. Get over it!”
That’s the thing about my characters…they swear a lot.
And yes, I am available for book clubs. Send me an email and we’ll set up a time.