Her name? Linda Joffe Hull. Her book? Eternally 21.
Even though social media often gives us closer, more immediate access to today’s authors, you don’t usually expect to meet one in person. Especially not on your lunch break when you wander into a bookstore (the Seattle Mystery Bookshop in this case).
Now let me be clear — Mrs. Hull is not paying me for this post. I doubt she’ll ever know I even wrote it. Same goes for the Seattle Mystery Bookshop although I freely admit to loving that store. Even if you don’t read mysteries, it has something for you and the staff knows where it is.
Which is how I met Mrs. Hull.
When I went to the “First in a Series” wall, the girl who was straightening the shelves asked if she could me find anything. I said I was looking for a bit of light reading, and she said that right behind us was an author who was debuting the first book in her new Mrs. Frugalicious series.
Linda Joffe Hull and I looked at each other. Hesitation hung in the air.
Me: Yeep! A writer!
Her: Yeep! A reader!
(Not to put thoughts in Mrs. Hull’s head, but making this assumption makes me feel like less of a star struck dork.)
She smiled. I smiled. I approached, ready to hear about her book but also looking for a socially acceptable escape route in case I wasn’t interested. The last thing I wanted to do was hurt her feelings. Also why I waited to write this post — I didn’t want to build expectation and then not like the book.
I listened attentively as she explained the premise of her book in which Maddie Michaels, aka Mrs. Frugalicious and the genius behind a bargain hunter’s blog, also becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a retail store manager who mistakenly accuses her of shoplifting.
You can read the full synopsis on Mrs. Hull’s website.
It was as the end of her pitch that I had a realization: she’s a real person. It may sound strange but I usually think of published authors as mysterious, exotic creatures.
But when her daughter, who couldn’t be more than eight years old, wrapped her arms around Mrs. Hull’s waist and proclaimed long-suffering boredom, Mrs. Hull went from being a published unicorn to being a working mother.
A wall came down and we engaged in actual conversation. I asked how long it’d taken to write Eternally 21 (one year) and how long she’d been writing (10 years). It was a short conversation as I didn’t want to monopolize her time, but Mrs. Hull was kind and gracious throughout, answering all of my questions.
On the train home, I started reading her book. And I’m hooked. Richly defined characters you can get behind. A plot I can keep pace with. An environment that’s clearly defined without beating you over the head with details.
But my biggest takeaways are:
1) Authors are real people, too. Which means that the only real barrier to turning my ordinary self into an author is the determination to make it happen. And the need to finish writing what I start.
2) If it took her 10 years to perfect her craft, I’d better get crackin’.
And if you’re an author who’s reading this, don’t be afraid to be a person. You might just make a fan before they even buy your book.
What about you? If you accidentally met an author, what would you most want to know?