We had a chat with this famous mystery author on the way to his award dinner.
BOISE, IDAHO (June 9) -- Walking from my hotel to the Saturday evening reception, Murder in the Grove’s closing show, I find myself mano-a-mano with New York Times best-selling author, this mystery convention’s Guest of Honor, Robert Crais.
Strolling the sidewalk, just the two of us, one author to another.
Sure. Like Roger Clemens and my granddaughter are both baseball players.
“You’ve got to lose your ego in this business,” Crais says.
My ears perk up. The first reason is Crais himself. One of the publishing industry’s biggest stars, and about to be presented with Idaho’s Bloody Pen Award for his contribution to crime fiction, Crais is wearing blue jeans, sneakers, shades, and a dark suit jacket over an untucked flowered shirt.
“I showed up at a bookstore not that long ago and they’d completely forgotten about my signing,” Crais says. “The place was empty. When I found the manager, he offered me a job application.”
All I can do is shake my head. Crais is telling me this story, talking about egos, for a reason. On his author panel earlier in the day, answering a question about my most embarrassing moment as a novelist, I mentioned what happened the night before. The bookstore we were all bussed to, for a signing, featured books by every author but me.
“My point is, you can’t let that stuff upset you,” Crais says. “That stuff happens all the time, to everybody. It’s part of the business.”
We’re about ten strides from the reception where one-hundred people await the presentation of Crais’s award and his acceptance speech. He’s a very funny, charming guy. I’ve got about four seconds before the crowd swallows him.
“I wasn’t upset with that bookstore lady,” I say. “Pouring whipped-creme latte on people’s shoes is pretty calm for me.”
Crais hesitates before joining the crowd, grins at me. “Yeah, but ramming the author bus into her Volkswagen was a bit much, don’t you think? You don’t want people saying you’re a hothead.”
Before I can tell him it was an accident, that I’m not used to driving International diesels, Crais disappears into a sea of friends and fans.
Maybe he’s right. I don’t want the publishing industry or potential readers to think I have a nasty temper.
Then again, if the bus driver and that bookstore lady actually file charges, I could get some decent news coverage.