A TALE OF TWO AUTHORS
By Dorothy Love
In the spring of 1995, my first novel for young readers was published and I was invited to speak to a librarian’s conference in the midwest. Also invited: an author who was much more established and very well known. Let’s call this author “R.W.” I arrived at the venue early, saw that RW had also arrived and went over to introduce myself. I said that my first book had just come out and that I was looking forward to sharing the podium. RW glared at me. “Who are you? I never heard of you.”
The event organizers arrived and RW went ballistic. The seats were arranged incorrectly. They would have to be moved. The slide projector was the wrong kind. Find another one. Way too arrogant and imperious for a mere author of children’s books. I felt diminished, and angry for the librarians who had worked so hard to organize things. To this day, I remember those words spoken with such disdain,” I never heard of you.” I never bought a single RW book and I never recommended them to others either.
Fast forward to August of that same year. I was vacationing in Charleston, South Carolina, when Pat Conroy arrived at Books-a Million’s Hoover Commons to sign copies of his newest novel, Beach Music. Though I was too late to get my book signed, almost 500 other people arrived carrying not only copies of Beach Music but other Pat Conroy titles they wanted signed. Pat Conroy made a point of speaking to each and every fan, asking what they did for a living, or where they went to school, or what town they were from. For more than three hours he signed and chatted with people, handed out advice to would-be authors, and joked around with his father, Don, “the Great Santini.” His fans adored him, and he adored them right back. Not one speck of ego, not one temper tantrum or snide remark. Go to his website today and you’ll find literally hundreds of posts from fans who beg to cook dinner for him, who want to meet him, who tell him how his books have changed their lives. Fans rejoiced earlier this month when he announced that he would be blogging occasionally. Like his millions of other fans, I check in every day to see whether he has posted anything new. Pat Conroy is one of my literary heroes. That day in Charleston, I promised myself I’d try always to emulate his humility and grace.
Which author would you rather meet? Which would you rather be?
Before moving to the inspirational market with her Hickory Ridge series of historical romances for adult readers, Dorothy Love published more than a dozen novels for preteens and young adults at major New York houses including Random House and Simon and Schuster. Beyond All Measure, her first Hickory Ridge title from Thomas Nelson debuted in June, 2011 to starred reviews from Library Journal and Romantic Times. Dorothy shares a home in the Texas hill country with her husband and two golden retrievers. She loves chatting with readers through her website: www.DorothyLoveBooks.com or her author page on Facebook: www.facebook.com/dorothylovebooks