Scenes from a Book Signing

Dennis Lehane was in Ann Arbor on Tuesday so I went to see him. I haven’t beenn to many book signings these days for people that I’m not friends with. But Dennis Lehane is one of my biggest influences and I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to see him in person and hear him read from his new book. It didn’t go very well.

I’ve been very blessed to become friends with a number of writers I consider influences. This means that when I go to one of their signings it’s a reuinion and there’s usually dinner or drinks involved. Times like that spoil me for when I go to signings for people I don’t kow personally. Dennis Lehane is one of those people. Below is the exchange between us.

Me: You’re my hero.

Dennis (awkwardly): No…

Me: Actually your process is my hero. I wasn’t able to finish anything
until I read that you threw away hundreds of pages to get a single
good page and so I wrote something and then threw away all but the
first 10 pages and then I rewrote it and threw away all but the first
20 pages–

Dennis: Have you finished anything?

Me: Yeah, actually, four books so far and–

Dennis: Because that’s the important thing.

Me: I’m actually friends with [famous writer who should not be denegraded for his association with me]

Dennis: Oh?

Me: Yeah, I told him I’d shamelessly use his name to give myself credibility with you. My friend Dave White and I stayed with him, I feel bad about this, because Dave was peppering him with questions about [another famous writer friend] and I was peppering him with questions about you.

Borders Assistant (glaring harshly, while putting the next person’s book in front of Dennis): Thank you for coming.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, after my book was signed I went to the cafeteria and waited until everyone else had gone through the line and he was on his way out of the store. I came up behind him and asked him if I could buy him a drink. he was very nice as he backed away slowly toward the door and said no.

6 thoughts on “Scenes from a Book Signing

  1. Considering Lehane’s recently expressed opinions about his mystery writing and his low opinion of mystery readers, you’re lucky he didn’t have you arrested.

  2. I met Dennis Lehane at a reading last year (or maybe earlier, around the time of his collection). A mesmerizing speaker and personable enough afterwards. He was particularly interested in my stories about being stalked by some Bryon Quertermous guy, so Den probably got more out of our time together than I did.

  3. If you want to achieve something, the first rule is to act as if you already have… this gets misinterpreted often – what it means is, if you want to be a writer, want to be taken seriously as one, act like one.

    Don’t act like a dufus who sounds like he’s meeting Kevin Smith at a Comic Con.

    And if you’re going to drop the name of a friend of his, start off with that – like, “So-and-so told me to say hi.” Don’t freaking tell him that you AND another dork were asking stalking questions about him AND another writer. Jeez. I would have run away, too.

    In defense of Lehane not being gracious enough… you have to understand that he gets people coming up to him and saying shit like ALL THE TIME, for years – hundreds and hundreds of them – and the majority are losers.

    So when a cool person such as yourself does it, he isn’t going to think, “Oh, maybe this one time the person is truly cool” – he’s going to assume that you are just another one of the losers.

    There’s a story about Lehane at the Chicago Bcon; all sorts of people were coming up to him in the way you did, and trying to buy him drinks, be his pal, etc. He was pissing all of them off by basically saying go away, and word spread around the con that Lehane was an asshole.

    But guess what? The one person who didn’t treat him like a rock star, the one person who spoke to him as an equal, who even gave him shit when they forst met him, is now quite good friends with him (no, it’s not me). Turned out that if you treated him like a person, like just another writer instead of a God, he was actually a pretty solid guy.

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