Coincidence is a funny thing. When two disconnected but interrelated things happen for no clear reason, we search for answers. Religious people would say it’s the will of the one(s) they worship. Agnostic athiests and secular humanists like A Dude would chalk it up to chance. The spiritual might say it’s the butterfly effect, or intentions coming back to you. Scientists would say something… sciencey.
I don’t know what Walter Mosley would say about me writing a blog about one of his books just a few days ago, and then him coming to town from a reading and book signing. Well, I think he may have said thanks. I wasn’t starstruck as much as feeling like “Wow! That’s Walter Mosley! Did I somehow summon him to Austin?” I wish I had that superpower. But anyway, what I’d say about this coincidence, fate, destiny, kismet, stupid luck, good fortune, or whatever — it was freaking awesome! Thanks to my host for reading my review and cluing me in.
The Insightful, Delightful and Engaging Mr. Mosley
If there is me thing I would tell you about Walter, is that he’s ok with you calling him Walter. I didn’t, but it’s notable when an award-winning author of 50 published works is as approachable and friendly as he is. He even said I hoped I liked his book, Charcoal Joe, after a little earlier at the signing table saying it was “a good time to do a review.” It was his subtle way of noting the book came out in 2016 but also not as well reviewe as he might have liked. That was according to an audience member who filled me in because I missed the reading and most of the talk. Hey, walking the dog in the rain took priority!
After his talk, the author took questions from the crowd. People were standing around listening, too. It was a pretty good-sized audience for a rainy Saturday night. Because I’ve been writing about the possible racial disparities in reporting two different cyclist’s deaths, about the positive effects of Marvel’s Black Panther movie, and the damaging stereotype of cyclists being only white men.
So I think it’s in keeping with that theme to point out that a sizeable number of the crowd were African-Americans. This was notable for this venue, which is the largest independent book store in Texas, Bookpeople.
Black people have been redlined for generations and forced out of Austin for many reasons. Whether it be from disproportionate abuse of power by the police, intolerance from businesses and government, the high costs of gentrification or for other reasons, like higher mortality rates, the percentage of the population that is black is only 8% and shrinking. This is the sort of thing that Mr. Mosley comments on in his novels. And though I don’t hang out there much, I haven’t seen a large representation in the book store. So it was nice to see a more diverse audience than usual. I had a nice long chat with an older gent named LA and a younger techie named Jessica afterward. We discussed their impressions of Mr. Mosley, collecting too many newspapers, whether they write, and they expressed interest in my bike blogging.
What was remarkable to me was his sense of humor and ability to shift from one type of question to another quite effortlessly. Of course it wasn’t his first rodeo. Someone asked about whether he could pick the covers, audio book narrators, etc. (The answer was no, but he trusts the professionals doing it and he can give input although iis often ignored). Someone else asked if he modeled his writing on anyone (he didn’t because if he read other fiction like his, it would seep into his unconscious and he’d have to rewrite a book — which he did once). LA asked about his son writing a screenplay and turning it into a book. (Mosley said it was usually the other way but to have each scene have an arc that ends. Do 100 pages and about 100 scenes. With screenplays, “It’s all show, no tell.”)
When I got a chance to talk, I asked a few things:
- What would you say to the current president (aka Tinyhands Orangehead) if you were stuck in a room with him? “I would try to be positive. And I would absolutely agree with him that there is alot of fake news out there, and he should try to stop it. Because I’ve been hearing fake news for 400 years.” Wow.
- What do you advise about writing a book and blogging? (Mosley wrote a book called This Year You Write Your Novel.) He said, “Keep doing them both, but separate them. And take a year for the book — not more, not less. Write an hour or two or three in the morning in your book, and blog later if you want to.”
- What if I want to write a non-fiction book? “Well, is there a story there? Write that.”
Other observations may follow, but I’m glad I made it, even if a bit late.
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