When I was a kid, my favorite place to go was a bookstore. I quickly graduated from the Hardy Boys (who didn’t last long for me) because I read a little story by Arthur Conan Doyle called The Adventure of the Speckled Band. Oh, the feels! I think I was in the fourth grade at the time. The story was in a book at school (for extra reading, not an assignment), and my teacher told me it was part of a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories. Goodbye, Hardy Boys, hello Baker Street!
My parents weren’t readers at all, but they encouraged me to read (it kept me quiet), so they took me to the bookstore and I bought The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. My allowance for the next few months went for more Holmes adventures. When those were gone, I was at a loss. What to do? I branched out. Ellery Queen, Agatha Christie, and Erle Stanley Gardner quickly became favorites. I didn’t discover my favorite writer, Rex Stout, until much later.
But I remember how excited I was when I had some money and was let loose in a bookstore. Oh, the mysteries that awaited!
Some years ago, I wrote my first book. It was a collection of ghost stories and legends called South Bend Ghosts. I was working at a Barnes and Noble at the time, and we, of course, carried the book. I remember one time I was working the cash register, and a family came up to check out. A boy in the family, (he was Hawaiian, not that it makes any difference) had my book in his hands. Mom asked me if I knew if the book would be appropriate for a twelve year old to read. I assured her, as the author, that it was. The kid’s face lit up. “You wrote this?” He was so excited he almost peed himself.
Of course, I signed the book for the kid. I don’t remember his name, but I understood his excitement. The family left. The kid wouldn’t put the book in a bag. He couldn’t let it out of his hands.
A few hours later, I looked up and the kid was standing there again. Alone. No family. He said they’d been eating lunch, and he’d read the first chapter and he loved it and could he take a selfie with me? I almost cried.