Playing Famous Author

Despite a few minor downturns, for the most part, my life lately has been truly a gift. I am having an incredible time housesitting — I have the opportunity to try on other people’s lives for a few days, which is an awesome adventure. And last night I got to play “famous author.” Well, maybe not “famous.” Maybe just “author,” but it was a fantastic experience for all that.

A local book club chose my novel Daughter Am I for this past month’s read, and they invited me to the discussion. I was afraid the discussion would be stilted because if they didn’t like the book, who would have the courage to admit it with the author sitting right there? But they all liked it for their own reasons.

One fellow seemed a bit tepid at first. He thought it a fun read that didn’t put him to sleep, which in itself is balm to a writer’s ears, but he got enthusiastic about the book when it dawned on him the story was a take-off on The Wizard of Oz. When he said as much, I couldn’t help emitting a triumphant, “Yes!” Although the book wasn’t specifically a take-off on The Wizard of Oz, it was a retelling of “The Hero’s Journey” as described by Joseph Campbell. (Actually, it was more a retelling of the retelling since I read Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey rather than Joseph Campbell’s tome.) And the mythic structure of “The Hero’s Journey” underlies many familiar tales. Not just The Wizard of Oz, but also such stories as Star Wars and King Arthur.

The other fellow in the group didn’t seem all that impressed with the structure or the fun of the story — he was caught up in the conspiracy aspect and his own search for my “truth.” He wanted to know what truth I was trying to illuminate. He thought it was both “Truth” with a capital “T,” and the specific truth that nothing is as it seems — although good is good and bad is bad, good can also be bad and bad can also be good. Again, I was impressed. Because yes, that is basically the truth of this particular book. Or one of them. If characters are true to themselves, then ideally readers can find whatever truth they need from the story, and all those truths are equally relevant.

The women in the group invariably were reminded of relatives or places they grew up, making the book personal to them.

It was a thrill and a true honor to sit around the table, eating delicious snacks and discussing my book. I never imagined such a gathering, never imagined what a privilege it would be to hear what the book meant to readers, never knew how gratifying it would be when people saw what my intentions were in writing the story. I wanted to write books that were simple to read, but had a subtle complexity that those of a more thoughtful bent could find. And apparently I did.

I’m so used to not seeing myself as an author, or as anything special when I do see myself as such because my online community consists primarily of authors. And when everyone is an author, well . . . no one is special. But last night I did feel special. As if I had done something incredible by writing the book.

I had an interesting insight when the topic strayed to other books they had read with despicable characters — I will never be a world famous author or a household name because none of my POV characters are ever despicable. They are kind folk who are nice to each other. The stories are never about their interpersonal conflicts, but their joint conflict with an outside antagonist.

And that is okay. Those are the types of characters (and people!) I want to spent time with.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

9 Responses to “Playing Famous Author”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    I’m glad you weren’t turned into the sacrificial lamb, Pat. And I’m glad you had an interesting time and that the group liked your book. A good evening had by all, right?

  2. Constance Says:

    I am glad that your event turned out well. You are a good writer.
    I like your style and have thoroughly enjoyed your books.
    Still hope that you decide to write your book about the dance studio. I am intrigued with your ideas on seeing different personality traits in all of us.
    I think that I would like to read “Rubicon Ranch”. I have never read a book that had different authors.
    You are an amazing person.
    Connie

  3. Mike Simpson Says:

    Congratulations, Pat. This was right of passage for you–and lately the accolades for your accomplishments seem to have been piling up. None of us who know your work are at all surprised at your accomplishments.

  4. Coco Ihle Says:

    I totally agree with Mike Simpson, Pat! Well done! You have so much more value than you realize!!!

  5. Kathy Says:

    You are so brilliant – well done! And I do know, in a small way the thrill of the reader totally getting the book without any prompting – priceless! I also used to know people who would professionally house sit in the Pacific Northwest. Sometimes they were able to invite friends over and we had a terrific time on the Oregon Coast. Maybe you could expand your territory.🙂

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’d like to be a professional house sitter, but the then, most people who want a housesitter have pets, and I really am not looking for responsibility. However, I will house sit anywhere. Would make for a wonderful and adventurous trip, wouldn’t it?

  6. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    If you’re going to be a famous author, you’ll need to round up an entourage.

  7. Constance Says:

    I knew someone who did Housesitting Professionally. She did some large and interesting homes in the Beverly Hills, Hollywood area, etc.
    Could be fun and interesting. Another ADVENTURE.


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