Well, I missed my posting day last week because I'd just gotten back from NYC and because Monday was a holiday and because I slept in and because I was still dreaming about those cold sesame noodles from Sammy's Noodle Shop. In fact, I am still dreaming about them.
And I'm late to the party with this, but I wanted to get in a word about Robert B. Parker.
As most of you know, Parker passed away last week and it was a shock. For a lot of people, it was like losing someone we knew because he was such a huge presence in our lives through his books. Parker is the reason I wanted to write detective novels. When I was struggling with a story that I knew was close to publishable, but knew wasn't there, and I knew I was going to have to start something else knew, I sat down and really thought about the books I liked to read, the books that really engaged me. And most of the ones that came to mind were Parker's Spenser books. My mom introduced me to them and I plowed through them. Couldn't get enough of them. He was easily the biggest influence on my writing.
And he was the first writer who I ever went to see at a signing. I think it was 1995 and I was still living in southern California, finishing up school. He was signing at Book Carnival in Orange and I was living in Irvine, so it was only about fifteen minutes away. It was a Saturday morning and when I got there, there was already a line out the door, people with books stacked in their arms.
I didn't know them at the time, but the store is owned by Ed and Pat Thomas, two of the greatest people in the mystery community. If you haven't been to their store, you are missing out. It was truly a thrill about ten years later when I got to do a signing at their store and all I could think about was seeing Parker in the same spot a decade before.
I stood in line behind a father and son, the boy was about three, I think. We chatted a bit about Parker's books and Hawk, his son squirming the whole time and I remember thinking it probably would've been easier on the guy if he'd left his son at home.
Parker didn't give a talk, he just sat at the back table and signed and chatted amiably with everyone there. He was soft-spoken and funny and and seemed happy to see each person. I just remember thinking as I got closer to the table, wow, I'm gonna meet one of my heroes and you don't always get those opportunities in life.
The enduring image I have, though, of that day isn't my conversation with him. I truthfully don't even remember what I said or what he said because I was a bundle of nerves. What I remember is the dad and the little boy.
When it was their turn at the table, the man set his son down on the edge of the table and then set his books down. Parker immediately reached out to the little boy and began talking to him. The guy said "His name is Spenser. You can probably guess why I brought him." Parker chuckled and nodded. The guy asked if he could take a picture of his son with Parker and Parker said of course. So Parker stood and leaned forward, put his face right next to the boy's and just made this kind of goofy, charming face. Spenser and Parker.
I would love to see that photo today because that is always the mental image that comes up when I think of Parker. Nothing to do with his books, just him making that face with that little boy.
He will be missed.
BABES IN JOYLAND
If you are my Facebook friend, you may have noticed that I mentioned Taylor Swift last week and took the usual amount of crap I take for admitting embarrassing things about myself. If you aren't my Facebook friend, here is your opportunity to give me crap right here for liking this song.