By Deborah Sharp
At first, the comment from a guy in the first row at a book signing made me beam:
''I love the fact your chapters are so short.''
I'm so glad to hear that, I gushed. I really think short chapters help with pacing. They heighten the narrative tension ... I was warming up for a literary tangent when he interrupted.
''Yeah, yeah ... all that might be true. But that's not why I like your short chapters.''
Go on, I said.
''You see, my doctor has me on a high-fiber diet.'' He rubbed his stomach. "I'd been having some problems in the bathroom . . .''
Don't go on! Don't go on. I was hoping he'd hear me, pleading telepathically. He didn't.
''Anyway, I think your short chapters are great because I take the book with me into the can. I read a chapter. I do my business. I get on with my day.''
How wonderful, I said. Thanks for sharing that.
Has it ever struck you funny, the kind of things people will say to authors? Maybe it's because reading can be such an intimate experience, often pursued in a comfy spot in the privacy of one's home. Maybe while lying in bed. Or, yes, even while using the john.
I was taken aback at first by his comment. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I'm grateful that anyone enjoys my books, however that may be. Maybe in this guy's case, I don't want to give too much thought to wherever that may be. Even so, Mr. Digestive Issues beats the heck out of those who have something snarky to share about my humorous Mace Bauer Mysteries. Like the man who raised a hand at another signing:
''Well, you can obviously write.'' He sneered, as if he were one of those reality show meanies measuring out a dollop of approval. "Why don't you write something more meaningful?''
Uhhhh, next question?
Authors, what strange thing has a reader shared with you? Readers, is there something you've always wanted to tell an author, but didn't have the nerve?