Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Your book really helped me!

By Deborah Sharp

With my first book just out, I'm still new to the idea of interacting with mystery readers. And, believe me, I'm thrilled when I find out anyone is reading Mama Does Time.

But . . . do readers share some really strange information with all authors? Or, is it just me?

A good friend strong-armed her husband into trying my book. He's not normally a big reader. I was delighted that this masculine TV cameraman likes my little story about three sisters and the Southern belle mama who drives them to distraction. My second surprise? Why.

''I like that your chapters are really short.''

I launched into some authorly blather about pacing, suspense, and today's compromised attention spans.

''Yeah, yeah,'' he interrupted. "But it's really more about the bathroom.''

Say what?

"Yeah. I've been having some trouble, you know, and the doctor has me on a high-fiber diet. Your chapters keep me on the toilet just long enough to finish all my business.''

Uhmm, thanks? Glad I could help.

I guess the personal disclosure shouldn't surprise me. The link between writer and reader can be intimate. But, up until now, I thought that reading in bed might be the most private spot I'd actually hear about.

But, what the heck. He's reading, right? And even if I never win an Edgar Award I'll know I've contributed to the colonic good health of my best friend's husband. Plus he's given me an idea for a series spin-off: Bathroom Moments with Mama.

So, fellow authors, any ''Huh?'' encounters with readers? Or vice-versa, readers? Authors guilty of TMI, too much information?


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

That's hilarious, Deb! And I love the photo you posted.

The most "revealing" e-mails I've received from readers involved sex providers. In my first book, the victim had been a plus size, high class, corporate prostitute and adult web cam girl. I received e-mails from two different women thanking me for showing a plus size sex provider as being very beautiful and confident. One e-mail was from an expensive plus size call girl; the other from a plus size dominatrix.

You just never know who's reading your books and getting something out of them.

Cricket McRae said...

Snort! What a great story -- and I just put a copy of my latest book in our guest bathroom! You know, just in case...

I haven't received any particularly revealing emails from readers, but some lunatic ranter did add me to his email list after he saw me at a reading. Some pretty weird stuff about the end of the world showed up in my inbox for a while until I blocked him.

Keith Raffel said...

Deb, I guess this is the first step to replacing the sports page as bathroom reading for the American male.

Deborah Sharp said...

Hmmm .... somehow I can't picture sex providers reading ''Mama.'' A mominatrix. maybe?
Not a bad idea to put our books in bathrooms, just so long as nobody uses them like the old Sears catalogs. And, Keith, your mouth to God's ear!
Thanks, guys!

Felicia Donovan said...

Love that picture, Deb! I know as authors, we "move the plot along," I just didn't realize we were moving other stuff along, too!

Yes, I've actually had several readers reveal some pretty wild things, but they understand that the Black Widows are intent on helping others. At least I think that's the basis for it and that's fine with me. I just don't go out on surveillance because they think their spouse/lover is cheating on them. That's what friends are for...

Jessica Lourey said...

Great post! Pat Dennis actually put together an anthology called "Who Died in Here" that might help your friend, too: From the description: "WHO DIED IN HERE? is an outstanding collection of mystery short stories of crimes and bathrooms, ranging from zany to deadly serious. Selected by Pat Dennis, author of Hotdish To Die For, the 25 storytellers' writing credits include prestigious magazines such as Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Television series such as Nash Bridges and Designing Women."

jbstanley said...

That story may qualify as TMI! Awesome photo too!

Joe Moore said...

Hey, a fan is a fan, Deb. Perhaps his doctor will start prescribing your book. There may even be medical opportunities for you here. :-) Great post.