By Louise Ure
“I saw the information about your appearance in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, and have decided I should become one of your fans,” the note read.
The wording struck me as strange. How does one “decide to become a fan?” And why do so simply by reading the roster of author events at a local bookstore?
That was ten days ago, and I had just finished the signing event for The Fault Tree at one of the nation’s best independent bookstores, Book Passage in Corte Madera, California. It was a fitting place to launch this second book. That’s where I took my first writing class, “Eight Weeks to Stronger Fiction” taught by Judy Greber (Gillian Roberts), and first imagined that I could write something longer than an email. Where I attended a Mystery Writers Conference and began to believe that I could be published. Where I went on to become a Mystery Conference faculty member and an author launching her first book.
I’d been worried about the launch of the second book. You know how it goes, you can ask your friends to help you move once, but when it comes to loading up that van and toting that furniture a second time, that’s really testing the friendship. I didn’t know if I’d have one person in the audience or none.
I shouldn’t have worried. It was a grand event, one that seemed to merge all the parts of my life into one grinning crowd. Old friends from my advertising days showed up. Newer friends from my writing life. People I’d studied with, gotten drunk with, and slept with. There were even a couple of people I didn’t recognize.
When it was all over, Reese Lakota from Book Passage had a significantly shortened stack of books that she wanted me to sign for the store, some of them pre-orders and some to put out on the shelves. The first one she handed me was a pre-ordered book that came with that note. “I have decided I should become one of your fans.”
“In my long and now retirement stage of life,” it went on to read, “the Ures that I’ve encountered have been few and far between.”
That would be right. There’s Mary Ure, the actress who co-starred in Where Eagles Dare. But she’s some kind of second cousin, so I guess that’s still my family.
There’s Midge Ure, the rock-and-roller and Live Aid organizer from Scotland. I can’t stand his music but I like his name.
And then there’s my family in Arizona. Desert dwellers. Happy with their prairie dog behavior of poking their heads up from their sandy burrows every now and again to see what’s going on, but not ever venturing far from home. There’s no reason to. As one cousin puts it: “If you wait long enough, everything comes to Tucson.”
“My name is also Ure,” the note concluded. “Robert Ure.”
Imagine that. Just forty miles north of me, is quite possibly a member of the family I’ve never met before. At a minimum, just forty miles north of me is a generous, open-minded mystery reader with a sense of humor.
I signed the book, “From one Ure to another.”
We’ve since begun an email relationship, and he’s also asked me to sign a copy of my first book for him. It makes me wonder if I could increase my reader base by changing my name to Smith or Park.
I’m heading down to Arizona this week for signings in Tucson and Phoenix and I’m really looking forward to it. Another blend of all parts of my life: family, high school buddies, writer and librarian friends, and readers. (Phoenix phriends, please note that the signing is at 1:00 p.m. Saturday the 26th at Poisoned Pen. The bookstore mistakenly put the wrong time on their website.)
I got a note from a former high school teacher of mine, Kay Ijams, saying that she’d be at Clues Unlimited in Tucson for the signing on the 25th. I told her that we might have to reintroduce ourselves after forty years with no contact. “I’ll be the old woman in the back of the room with pride in her eyes,” she wrote. She’s right. I’d recognize her anywhere.
I wonder at what point in an author’s career the readers and fans who come to events outnumber the friends and family that do so. Even now, at every signing or conference panel or library presentation, there is at least one person in the audience I don’t recognize. Maybe they’re new fans. Maybe they’re high school teachers from forty years ago.
Maybe they’re all named Ure.
Okay, Rati’, what’s the weirdest connection you’ve made to a fan or an old acquaintance on tour? And readers, have you ever “decided to become a fan?” Why’d you do it?