I had a chance to attend his session on “Do You Write What You Know?,” which was held on the last morning of the conference. I wasn’t surprised that there was a healthy crowd. What did surprise me was that Barry wasn’t a big hefty guy (the way I imagine his protagonist). He was thin and wispy. He looked at least a decade younger than he could possibly be. And he was funny. He told us about living in Japan. He admitted that readers always let him know if he’s made a tiny mistake about weapons or other details. He even has a mistake page on his website!
After the session, the moderator invited the audience members to go meet the authors whether we had books for them to sign or not. I did want to meet Barry, but it seemed tacky to go empty-handed. My problem was that his latest book was a heavy hardback and my luggage was already nearly too much for me to manage. So I compromised. (I’d promised myself not to buy any books while at the conference.) I picked up a cheap mass market paperback version of Requiem for an Assassin.
Undaunted, I presented my lowly paperback. Barry probably made a quarter on my purchase. Yet he didn’t seem to notice this gaffe. Instead he was friendly and chatty. He even noticed I had my own mysteries to peddle. He let me take a picture with him, twice, because the “photographer” messed up on the first try. When I complimented him on his books and especially on the fact that his very first book was translated into twenty languages, he smiled shyly. “It’s partly luck,” he claimed. “Plus people really love assassins!”
I thanked the man and he went back to signing, but I could not have been more impressed. Yet I’ve often found such an attitude to be prevalent among people at the top of their fields. The musicians and writers who are truly the best are often the most humble. They appreciate the efforts of other writers. They appreciate their fans.
Barry was a perfect example. Although he was one of the key writers at the conference, he’s also the one I’d most want to spend an evening talking to, the one I’ll follow the most closely, and the one whose work I’ll most often push off on my friends. He would be happy to know that by now I’ve bought three more of his books. The next time I can catch him at a conference, I’ll let him sign the whole stack. I’m darned sure he won’t mind.
Learn more about D.R.’s Andy Veracruz mystery series at http://www.drransdellnovels.com. No assassins though—at least not yet!