As I’ve said in the past, as a writer it’s great to have fans Like the clerk at Coles bookstore in London, Ontario, who, after I autographed 15 copies of Hey! Is That Guy Dead or Is He The Skip? for their “Signed By Author‘s Section” asked if she could put them in a bag for me she began to ring up the sale.
Like Walter, the only person to show up at a reading I did at the Waverly Library in Thunder Bay who insisted I perform the entire one hour presentation for him as he sat in the front of 79 empty chairs. He also insisted on a Q&A period although he had no questions. And he attended the obligatory book signing that followed although he bought no books.
Like the woman at the Chautauqua Institute in New York, where I taught for ten summers who praised my work profusely before asking me to sign two books for her and her sister. Before she walked away, she asked: “When did you first begin to draw?” Immediately I realized she had mistaken me for cartoonist Jerry Robinson and that I should give back her $50 bill. But where would I ever sell two books, one signed to Lydea and the other to Eaned?
“Well,” I said nervously, “I guess I was three or four, but I wasn’t very good at it.”
As she disappeared into the crowd going to hear Jerry Robinson speak, I remember thinking about Harry Chapin and that great song Taxi. “I stashed the bill in my shirt.”
So fans. I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention.
Recently, I’ve been trying to buy back some of my own books which are now out of print like The Dog Rules (Damn Near Everything!) and The Cat Rules (Everything -Including The Dog.) I have no idea how this works. I go on Amazon and digitally toss my books into an imaginary cart and they show up in the mail from some obscure, independent book stores in America.
Interesting that a copy of The Cat Rules arrived from the Thrift Books in Aurora, Illinois wrapped in plastic and stamped “Friends of the Mississauga Library System. Thank You For Your Support.” Well, apparently that support goes only one way because when the library got tired of shelving my book they sold it in their remainder bin and the buyer resold it to a book store in the States!?!
Did I say ‘interesting’? No, degrading actually because the book is inscribed: “Merry Christmas Nancy. All The Best. William J. Thomas.” Now I’ve done a lot of speaking and signing gigs in a lot of towns so I have no idea who Nancy is and trust me, it’s just as well. But Nancy, if you’re reading this column, my new best wish for you is that next Christmas finds you down with the flu as your cat coughs up a hairball on the plate with Santa’s cookies and he rewards you with a lump of coal that gets stepped on and crushed on your white shag carpet. The one you bought yourself for Christmas.
Gee, I hope that didn’t sound bitter but there’s something traitorous about asking an author to not just sign his book but also personalize an inscription for you…at Christmas time no less and then putting it in a lawn sale or donating it to your local library!
Another copy of The Cat Rules arrived without it’s cover and inscribed: “For Angela And Brian. Best Always, William J Thomas.” “Best” then but not “Always.” No idea who Angela and Brian are but perhaps by some strange coincidence they know Nancy and may she give them both a bout of the flu while her cat uses their shoes for target practice.
But wait, it gets better. A few months ago I happened to be having lunch at Flyers Cafe And Bakery in Dunnville when I spotted a copy of The Dog Rules on a nearby book shelf. It was for sale. Flyers, which by the way, has really good food at reasonable prices used to be the Reader’s Cafe where, according to the fly-leaf of this book I did a signing on Thursday, December 7, 2000. The book was in perfect condition. It looked like it has never been opened. Which means it had probably never been read by either Cher or Paul as in: “For Cher & Paul. The best friends a writer can have. Thank you, William Thomas.”
You see what happened there? The hand extended in friendship just got bitten.
Long gone from today’s business, my “best friends” Cher and Paul were the owners and operators of the Reader’s Cafe 19 years ago. Today they operate a company which surreptitiously injects X-Lax into the Meals On Wheels being delivered to seniors with mobility issues. Okay, they don’t do that. I made that up.
I’m sure Cher and Paul are healthy wherever they are today. I just hope their consciences keep them awake all night…wide awake in the middle of the night which by the way is a great time to cuddle up with a good book…THAT JUST HAPPENS TO BE SIGNED AND PERSONALLY INSCRIBED TO YOU!!!
Oh yeah, I have fans. I even have their names. The problem is they don’t remember me!
“For sale: pre-owned good-condition copies of most of my books. Already signed and inscribed to people I’m currently not speaking to.”
And for comments, ideas and copies of The Cat Rules go to www.williamthomas.ca