Two years ago, while at a writers’ conference in New York, I attended a party that HarperCollins was throwing at a small bookstore in downtown Manhattan.
The bookstore was exactly the kind of place you’d imagine an independent, New York city bookstore to be. Wooden bookcases reached to the top of the high ceiling. Ladders that rolled along on brass rails were required to access the upper shelves. Large picture windows looked onto a street lined with trees and brick-covered storefronts. The bookstore wasn’t small, exactly, but it was cozy.
Several of the HarperCollins authors were in attendance, there to have a good time, as well as sign books in case any of their readers happened to catch the news of the gathering. Many of the authors there I’d had the good fortune to get to know over the years at the various writers’ conferences, so there were a few recognizable faces. At the same time I was in awe of the scene, a mixture of the familiar and the imagined, the hoped for and what I’d fantasized in positive visualizations.
I stood at the edge of the party with a glass of white wine in my hand, trying to look, I don’t know, literary or something. (I always like to hold a drink at parties, even if I’m not drinking it. It gives me something to do. I mean, if I wasn’t around, who would be here to hold this drink, right?)
I’d been speaking to one of my favorite writers, who also reviews books for the Associated Press, when three young Asian women approached me.
They gazed at me with a sort of reverence that I didn’t quite understand. They seemed to want to speak to me, but simultaneously afraid to do so. It was as if I was one of the best selling authors in the room and they were my readers, eager to meet the storyteller that had been entertaining them for these many years. Just for a moment, I actually felt what it might be like to be that best selling author, as if I’d dropped into an alternate universe where that scenario were true.
The woman in the center looked at the book cradled in her arms. “Would…” she began in broken English, “Would you sign?”
I looked and there was James Rollins’ latest bestselling thriller in her hands. I smiled, the moment passing, rapidly being sucked up and drawn back into my own universe. “I think you are looking for Jim Rollins,” I said, pointing a few feet to my left, “who’s standing right over there.”
Somehow I’d managed to manifest that moment, having skipped a couple of steps to get there. Here’s hoping that happens again someday, but next time that those fifteen seconds of fame grows to fifteen minutes.
Brian Mercer is the author of the supernatural YA novel, Aftersight (Astraea Press, 2013). He is also co-author with Robert Bruce of Mastering Astral Projection: 90-Day Guide to Out-of-body (Llewellyn, 2004) and The Mastering Astral Projection CD Companion (Llewellyn, 2007). A board member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and senior editor at Author Magazine, he lives in Seattle with his wife, Sara, and their three cats.