Two weeks ago I was in Quakertown signing copies of Rude Awakening at an event called Arts Alive, where I was seated at a table with about a half dozen other writers. To my right sat a gentleman, an older man. When I say older, I mean he was about the same age as I am. Every once in a while someone would stop to look at the title of his book and comment on it. One man stopped dead in his tracks and said, “Wow! I just got that book from the library and I’m half way through it.”
Now I was curious. Before I had a chance to talk to the author, he disappeared. In his place was a young woman I took to be his granddaughter, although I later learned she was his editor. I pointed to the book and asked, "What's it about?"
“It’s an earlier version of An American Sniper,” she said.
“Really?” Now I was intrigued. I had gone out of my way to see that movie and loved it. When the author, whose name is Michael Roman, came back we started talking. He told me he had lived in Iran for ten years during the 60s and 70s and that his youngest children were born there. He said he found the Iranians to be warm and generous and made many friends. While there, he served as a Major General in the Imperial Iranian Air Force and was shot at many times by terrorists and by many of the Shah’s opponents. Then he told me a story I will never forget.
He said that one day while he was standing outside his house in Iran, an armed man aimed a gun at him. When his wife, who was inside the house, saw what was about to happen she ran outside and threw her arms around him.
“Oh my God,” I said, feeling breathless as I pictured the event in my mind. “What happened next?”
“She wouldn’t let go and the shooter ran away.”
I loved that story, but what I loved more was the way he told it – as though even after all these years, he was still awed by what his wife had done. Michael’s book is called Zehbel: The Clever One and is currently being made into a television series.
Speaking of books, I have been able to cross two of them (Touching My Father’s Soul and Quiet) from the list I posted last month. I was also able to read three others that weren’t on the list including The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks.
Do you remember what I told you about writing in a post I called Write On? I said that some books (including Gone with the Wind) are written backwards. You can only imagine then how delighted I was to find these words on the back of The Notebook:
“Dear Reader, It’s hard to believe that over twenty years have passed since I began writing THE NOTEBOOK. Drafting this novel was a circuitous process. I wrote first what became the final chapter, and wrote last the first five pages of the novel.” I loved it.
Well, summer is almost here and I am almost ready to hang up my school bus keys until September. I plan to do a lot of reading this summer as well as working on my new book, although I can’t say that either the end or the beginning has been written. I seem to be lost somewhere in the middle, but then writing is such a wonderful process that being lost somewhere in the middle is not such a bad place to be after all. For me this summer, the living may not be easy, but I’m sure it will be delightful.