Friday, December 3, 2010

Literary Overload: Meeting Patricia Cornwell

 Last night I had the pleasure of meeting Patricia Cornwell in Oakbrook, IL, where she signed copies of her new novel, Port Mortuary.  It was an amazing experience and I hope I can recreate it for you.  As Carrie Fisher once said, "You haven't lived vicariously until you've lived through me."

So I have to give it to my mom.  She swapped out her box of wine and bathrobe for coffee and a warm jacket and drove to Oakbrook to get wristbands for the signing for me, my dad, and her at 5:30a.m.  She was one of the first people in line so she got a sweet cap with the Scarpetta crest on it.  We also got Scarpetta crest coasters and pins at the signing.  Good marketing.

Anyway, we got to the signing an hour ahead of time, but the place was already packed.  Luckily, Patricia arrived on time with her entourage, including her beautiful wife, Dr. Staci Gruber.  Patricia was very warm and funny.  She has a very endearing way of talking about her characters.  "You think I have control over my characters," she told us, "Trust me, I don't."  She said that she invited Dr. Scarpetta to the signing, but she didn't return Patricia's call.

Patricia answered questions from the audience and talked about her writing.  When she wrote Postmortem, she had never read a mystery before.  She bought novels by Agatha Christie, P.D. James, and Dorothy Sayers for inspiration.  However, she ended up writing a parlor mystery set in a morgue.  "The butler didn't do it," Patricia mused, "but he did have his innards carved out."  After a half hour of discussion, Patricia got right into signing books.

While I was waiting for her to sign my book, I got to meet other fans who I've communicated with on Patricia's Facebook page.  Her fans really adore her, and it was great to connect in person instead of online.

I didn't have to wait long to meet Patricia and it was surreal.  I was shaking like a spastic colon, and it was hard to keep my voice from doing the same.  I told her how much I love her writing and how it inspired me to write.  She was incredibly gracious and told me that maybe I could sign a book for her one day.  It was freaking magic.

Patricia also offered to sign her older books, but only after all the new books had been signed.  I waited around and talked to other fans which made the time fly.  One of the books I had was my copy of Postmortem which is very rare to find in hardcover.  Patricia's reaction was priceless, and also showed how thoughtful she is.  She looked at the book and asked with surprise, "Is this a first edition?"  When I told it was, she had someone get her a ballpoint pen because she thought her Sharpie would bleed too much on the old paper.  She really went out of her way for me and I won't soon forget that.

All in all, it was an amazing experience.  Patricia and her team are very gracious and the fans can't be beat.  Port Mortuary already has a number 36 sales ranking on Amazon and is getting great reviews.  I'm very grateful to have met Patricia and hope the rest of her tour is as big a success as her stop in Chicago was.

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