Saturday, July 13, 2013
I was there to sign copies of my two Philadelphia novels, Dangerous Neighbors and Dr. Radway's Sarsparilla Resolvent. And as grateful as I was for the opportunity, I knew, going in, how hard this would be for this lifelong thwarter of sales scenarios. I couldn't sell Girl Scout cookies when it was required of me years ago. At other author events, I eschew talking about my own books in favor of promoting the books of others. And put me in the midst of a store with only my own books to sell, and all I can think of is how silly I must seem to all those passing by. An American curiosity with a twitch in her writing hand.
When I could climb out of my own head long enough, however, I was grateful for many things. For Sister Kim and her cousin Christine, who came and visited for a long sweet while. For the grandparents of twins, who embraced Dangerous Neighbors. For the junior in high school who hopes to be a writer, for the handsome couple who eventually overcame stormy skies and storm surges on the Chesapeake and made their way to the city, for the couple from Australia, for the couple from western PA.
And then there was this totally adorable little boy who could not get enough of the Dr. Radway cover. So convinced was he that he had to have this book that his mother and I began talking. She is a literature professor in China, as it turns out, at the end of a few months based in Boston, and it was fascinating to talk with her—and to hear her appreciation for this country. I was glad to hear that my fellow Americans had been kind to her and her family. I was glad to see the good of us through her eyes.
And that little boy—I'll never forget him.
I'm not good at sales. Indeed, I'm downright terrible at sales, suffering some inner shame as the clock ticks on. But today I was given the chance to see and hear the appreciation that others have for my city. It was enough for me. It was energizing.