By Chris Grabenstein One of the most interesting panels at this year’s MAYHEM IN THE MIDLANDS out in Omaha was one moderated by William Kent Krueger called “The Me You Never See: The Secret Life of Your Favorite Authors.”
When he asked, “What’s your sign?” I thought at first that Mr. Krueger, apart from being an Anthony Award-winning author and all around great guy, was a time traveler from a 70s Single Bar. But, when about half the writers on the panel responded Virgo (or at least some Virgo influence), I knew he was on to something.
What my wife and I call Virgosity.
You see I was born on September 2nd. I am a Virgo. This explains why I eat the same whole grain muffin with peanut butter and honey every day at 9:32 A.M. Why I have two mugs on my desk: one for black pens, the other for red. Nothin’ but Sharpies.
Wait. Looks like someone snuck a baby blue ball-point into the red mug when I was in the other room preparing my 3:30 p.m. cup of coffee.
The ballpoint is dead to me.
Yes, to create the chaos of my mystery and thrillers requires lots of order and structure. Not outlines. More important stuff like two coasters: one for the coffee mug, one for the bottled water. Always to the left of the computer screen. The right is where the note pad has to sit.
Here’s what one Internet stargazer said about Virgo, the Virgin, the only female sign in the Zodiac: “Virgo wants to make sense out of the world, and will observe, study, research, compare, and record. Virgo likes paper, where ideas are presented in tangible form. In fact, an ancient picture of the Goddess shows her with a papyrus headdress. Virgo is often a fine writer, or poet, or critic.”
I’m ordering up one of those papyrus headdresses, pronto. And a rhyming dictionary so I can move into my poet phase.
Agatha Christie was a Virgo. J.K. Rowling has some heavy Virgo influence. Theodore Dreisser, D.H. Lawrence, Lilly Tomlin, Leonard Bernstein, BB King, Sean Connery and Sophia Loren – Virgos all.
But then again, so was William Howard Taft, America’s 27th (and fattest) president. WHT probably could’ve been a writer if he hadn’t been so busy doing other things such as consuming mass quantities of mutton.
Virgos crave routine. Be it regular servings of mutton and hash, or a daily writing schedule that begins to resemble the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day.
The major pitfall of Virgo is worry.
I was afraid of that.
It’s why we Virgo writers never think we’re finished rewriting even after the hardcover and paperback have already come out. When I do a reading from one of my books, I always see words I should’ve changed, sentences I could’ve cut.
We always want to make things better. Maybe it’s why so many mystery writers on that panel were Virgos.
In mysteries, order is, typically, restored at the end. The loose ends are all tied up. All the pens are in their proper containers.
Now, if you will excuse me, it’s 4:30 p.m. Time to take my dog Fred out for a walk, the same walk we took yesterday at 4:30 p.m.
Fred, the dog, has a schedule, too. We suspect he may be a Virgo and is secretly writing a mystery where the cats don’t solve the crimes but are the victims.