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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Meet the Author: Richard Uhlig

You all know I can never pass up the chance to meet an author. I got home late this afternoon from our "trial run" on the traveling with two dogs expedition we are planning in the near future to a phone message letting me know that author Richard Uhlig was speaking in town. The name didn't even ring a bell, but hubby was pretty sure I'd read something to him about the author's book when it was in the paper recently. This may or may not be true. I really don't remember.

I dragged Munchkin #1 along with me. She and I were planning a sort of date this evening anyway and she went willingly. Option number two was to go stuff envelopes for a local volunteer project. This sounded much more interesting.

As I said, I don't pass up chances to meet real live authors. You never know when and where you are going to find the next great read (or bit of inspiration to finish your own damned novel!) Perhaps I found both.

Richard Uhlig's first novel, published in August 2007, is titled Last Dance at the Frosty Queen. He read the first two chapters this evening and it was enough to convince me I want to read the book.

I was one of the few people in the room eager to ask questions. Unfortuately, he didn't hand out any magic keys, just reinforced a lot of advice I've found elsewhere. It was nice to hear it in person, however, from an author holding a published book in his hand. A "first" book, in fact, that Simon & Schuster and Knopf had a bidding war over.

I will admit to being a little disappointed to hear he didn't have any previous manuscripts collecting dust under his bed. I have already decided, however, that I will not be one of those authors that gets jealous and petty over another author's successes.

I was particularly interested to hear about his experiences writing a fictional story set in a small town in Kansas. The town of his story, he admitted, was inspired at least somewhat by his own hometown. Much of my writing has been inspired in similar ways and it is often my experience (particularly with some of the short stories that people have actually read) that the people who know me will read a lot more "memory" and reality into the story than I envision when I'm writing.

I asked what the response from his hometown had been. Indeed, he'd already had some conversations with people who seemed to take his fiction as reality. In fact, one of his high school classmates was in the audience and she kept referring to the character as "you" even after Richard spoke of the characters as fiction and a world that he made up. She certainly recognized elements of his story from her own experiences growing up in that town.

I imagine that is the reason we read books. We are reaching out into the world and looking for a points of commonality, elements where we can relate. I suppose it is only human nature to find those points more easily when we actually know an author, even when the actual connection was not in the author's mind to begin with.

Interesting stuff. I could have kept on asking questions all evening, but our time ran out.

As for me, I'm still working on revision number three of novel... well, I haven't really determined what number it might be. It seems more of a fraction of the original grand novel attempt. I certainly will be able to claim manuscripts collecting dust under my bed when I finally get there... to the completed novel, that is. The quest for publication will be a whole new ballgame that I'm just not prepared to ponder at this point.

Ricard Uhlig also wrote the screenplay for Dead Simple, though his original title was Viva Las Nowhere.

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