Last Thursday, June 27th, I spoke on a panel to a lovely group of readers at the Wiseburn Library in Hawthorne with three of my friends, pictured below. The topic was culinary mysteries. I wasn't supposed to be there. My books are not about food but my 4th novel COOL CACHE is set in an artisanal chocolate shop in Beverly Hills, so I volunteered to replace an author who had to bow out due to scheduling conflicts.
Meeting readers is always a rewarding experience for me. However, something happened that night that reminded me of what I love most about this crazy writing business. After the event was over, the librarian pulled me aside and handed me a note. It was from one of the regular library patrons, a man in his eighties, who told her he had to leave before the presentation was over because he no long felt comfortable driving in the dark. She told me he and his wife rarely missed an author event, but his wife's health had begun to fail, and she could no longer accompany him.
The note read:
To Patricia Smiley - My wife really (3 underlines) enjoyed the 3 of your books that I brought home to her. She will really regret missing the opportunity to meet you. --JL
The librarian told me it was impossible to tell which 3 of my 4 novels JL had brought home to his wife, so I gave her a hardback copy of the latest book and asked if she would give it to him. Fingers crossed that it's the one JL's wife hasn't read.
With all the books available to readers, it always amazes me that anyone has ever heard of me or my novels. But somehow JL wandered through the library's mystery section and checked out my book to share with his wife. Then he went back for another and another.
JL may never know how much his note meant to me. I regret that I didn't get the chance to tell him in person. This experience again reminds me how grateful I am to our wonderful library system for providing readers an opportunity to access our books long after they are published. Here's hoping they never run out of shelf space.