Monday, September 8, 2008

Karma, New Mysteries, Sherlock Holmes, and the Sarah Palin Effect, by Jess Lourey

Today, I am cleaning the lint trap of my mind into this space. I think when I'm done, my overall life performance will improve. First, many many mystery writers, including me, have recently gotten this email:


My sister is one of your biggest fans and she has terminal breast cancer and her birthday is coming up and I was wondering if I could get her an autographed copy of one of your books. She would enjoy it so much.Thank you so much.

Kathy Sickles

Her address is below:

Cindy Lewis
3816 Highway Avenue
Highland,Indiana 46322

I was raised by a paranoid man, which makes me a suspicious woman. My first response was that it’s a scam. However, I’m also a mother, which makes me a bleeding heart regarding issues of death and sadness. Fortunately, I’m also a writer, so I used my mad letter-penning skills to sniff out the truth. Here's what I sent back a week ago:

I'm so sorry to hear about your sister, Kathy! That is truly very sad, and thank you for contacting me. The email you sent me has also been sent to many other mystery authors, no? Many of us have been discussing it in our online communities, and though we all strive to be supportive of those in need, the fact that you are mass emailing and telling us all that we are your sister's favorite author sends some concerns that your request is not legitimate. Since many of us are on a limited budget and have to pay for our own books, would it be possible for you to address this issue so we can do the right thing without feeling taken advantage of?


Jess Lourey
Murder by Month Mysteries

I haven’t heard back from her/him/it/them. Suspicious Jessie wins another round, and Compassionate Jessie is saddened by the bad karma the original email is generating. On to happier news. I have a new agent, Victoria at the Levine/Greenberg Literary Agency, and I’m thrilled with her. She’s currently negotiating the contract for September Mourn, which will be released fall 2009 if all goes well. Also, I just last night got a shiny, sparkling, funny, edgy idea for a new mystery series! It’s my first whole new full-length mystery idea since I started writing the Murder-by-Month series six years ago, and it’s about freaking time.

P1010116Finally, I took a trip to London a couple weeks ago and ate dry chicken, delicious warm custard, and bubbly cider at the Sherlock Holmes pub (right off of Baker Street. Seriously). Good times! Inside, they have this weird, dusty dioramic room set up to looP1010115k like Sherlock Holmes’ office as described by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. You can peer at it through glass, and it appeals to the inner Wall Drug/Corn Palace child in all of us. Feast your eyes and know that I took that picture just for you.

p.s. For the past week, I've been thinking how familiar Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin looks. I thought it was just because she was the archetypal high school Queen Bee, all grown up. You know the one I mean. She was nice to your face but slid a "kick me because I'm fat and think a french kiss is a new line of Hershey's candy" sign on your back when she faux-hugged you? She's pretty and super popular with the guys, and always complains to them how she doesn't have any female friends because we're all so bitchy? Yeah. Her.

But then, when I read that as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, Ms. Palin tried to fire the local librarian because she wouldn't censor books, I realized why she looked familiar. Sarah Palin is one of the villains in August Moon. The book features an extreme religious group that believes they are God's warriors, that religion should be taught in science classrooms, that their small group should decide what books are acceptable at the local library, and that civil liberties should only be offered to those who look and think like them. When writing that book, I was looking for justice and humor in satirizing that tiny, zealous slice of the religious population. Guess the joke's on me.

p.p.s. In a shout-out to all the librarians out there who have to combat ignorance and underfunding on a daily basis, let's celebrate Banned Book Week while we still can.


Anonymous said...

I think with this election we have the choice of either making history, or repeating it.

Jessica Lourey said...

Well said. That's my new favorite line since, "Sarah Palin: Republicans' most popular woman since Monica Lewinsky."

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Jess, I love that Lewinsky line. In fact, I'm going to post it to my blog.

I also received the letter from the woman with the sick sister. I did some research and this woman is real and so is her sister. And I found a prayer request for her sister on a church website from several months back. But that said, the fact that she used the old "your her favorite author" line, then sent it to dozens of us made me pull back from sending the book. If she'd just said something real, I might not have. I've actually gotten e-mails from people asking for free books because they claim their name is Odelia.

It's sad that we can't even try to be generous without suspicion. More sad that our suspicion is usually correct.

Jessica Lourey said...

Thanks for the insight, Sue Ann. How'd you find out that she was the real deal? I found the prayer request, too, but after looking closely decided that could have been posted by anyone. See how jaded I am? You're right that it's awful.

Terri Thayer said...

I got that letter and immediately dismissed it as a hoax, without research or much compassion. Must be the New Yorker in me. She usually only comes out in traffic.

David Letterman says Palin looks like the Lenscrafter lady. So true. I like the moniker Caribou Barbie myself.

Keith Raffel said...

I spent a summer in London just a few blocks from the Sherlock Holmes pub. I still keep my change in a dish I bought there. Thanks for the memories!

G.M. Malliet said...

OMG, this made me laugh:

>>>David Letterman says Palin looks like the Lenscrafter lady. So true. I like the moniker Caribou Barbie myself.<<<

Thanks, Terri.

By the time I got the letter, it was already being widely discussed as a hoax, so I just trashed it. I don't know what I'd have done if I'd come across it "cold."

Chris Grabenstein said...

Have you noticed...

We never see George Bush with Sarah Palin...I think he might've figured out how to stick around for eight more years...probably watched TOOTSIE...