It’s been quite a day. The Hartford Courant ran an article about SOMETHING MISSING and my life story on the front cover of today’s paper, above the fold, and alongside stories about the death of Walter Cronkite and the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 missions.
It’s an enormous story that carries on for two pages and offers details about my life, the writing of the book, and my future projects. Overall, I’m pleased with the results. What began as a small story intended for the Lifestyle section of the paper eventually landed on the front page of the Sunday paper, so how can a guy complain?
But the process of interviewing for the article was a stressful one. You speak to a reporter for hours and hours, day after day, and you begin to wonder what material will ultimately be included in the article. News about the book, of course, but what else? There were lots of questions about the robbery that is detailed in the story, but we also spoke at great lengths about a number of topics, including my two near-death experiences, my childhood, my mother, my relationship with my former step-father, my writing process, my career as a teacher and a wedding DJ, and much more. She also interviewed at least half a dozen other people for the story and came back at me with follow-up questions from the interviews. For a while, I felt like I was interviewing for a full-length memoir, and I began to feel guilty about failing to share at least two other important stories from my life that never came out in the interview process.
Maybe for the release of the next book.
But in the end, I thought the reporter, Vanessa de la Torre, did a fine job, linking and weaving elements of my life to SOMETHING MISSING rather effectively and pointing out possible connections between me and my protagonist that had never even occurred to me. She also excerpted part of the novel for the front page and included the cover art as well, both of which can only serve to help sales. There are a couple spots in the story where I can see the heavy hand of the editor’s pen, but overall the writing is excellent, too.
Still, as exciting as it was to see my book featured on the front of the Hartford Courant, it was a little awkward for me as well. There was a lot of hype (advertisements for the story in Friday and Saturday’s paper), a lot of drama, and a lot of sharing about parts of my life that most people know nothing about. I’ve had friends ask me why I never shared these aspects of my life with them, but these are simply not stories that one tells over dinner or during a round of golf, and for the longest time, they were stories that I could not tell.
Still, people were surprised.
But congratulatory phone calls, emails (many from complete strangers), face-to-face conversations, and messages on Twitter and Facebook made today a little less awkward for me, so thank you to everyone who was kind enough to send along well wishes. They meant a lot.
Like I said, it was quite a day.
A side note: I never had a chance to actually look at the story until late this afternoon. My wife got out of bed around 5 AM this morning, the first time ever that she has ever risen from bed before me for anything except feeding Clara, and chased down a paperboy in order to purchase a copy of the paper after discovering that the local gas station was closed. She then brought it home and read it to me as listened from my pillow, still half asleep. An hour later I was on the golf course with friends (two pars, three bogies, a double bogie, and three unmentionable holes), and immediately following the round, we were off to the birthday party of a friend’s daughter. It wasn’t until 5:30 PM that I was able to sit down and look at the piece and the photos that were included.
I think part of me was avoiding it, fearful that the photo they chose to use made me look dumb. But as with the story itself, the photography worked out well.
Oh, and there’s a small photo gallery on the Hartford Courant’s website as well, in case you’re interested.
Overall, it was a fine day, and hopefully the attention that the book received today will result in more people reading my story. If I have to feel a little awkward and overly exposed to increase my readership, that’s a small price to pay.