= John T. Cullen =
An Iconic Moment in My Life As Author
At The Copyshop. The story I am about to tell you has happened to me more times than I can remember, in many settings with many women and men who read one of my novels. The Copyshop Experience stands out above all, and is representative of so many wonderful moments when an author feels a sudden glow all over. It's one of the things we live for: feedback from happy readers.
It Was a Dark and Story Night
Actually, it wasn't night but it's a true story. One afternoon many years ago, I needed to make a copy of my newly written suspense thriller Neon Blue at the request of a literary agent. We're talking in the 1980s, before a lot of digital stuff was going on in the lives of authors.
I needed a copy of this thick manuscript (almost a ream of paper at more than 400 pages in typed form). I knew of a one-hour service copyshop in my neighborhood in San Diego, so I stopped in. I won't mention the brand, but it was a national chain with fairly large stores that did a lot of business.
The place was busy, and the only one lady behind the counter looked harried. She was sweating, and foofed a lock of hair up off her forehead with an overwhelmed exhalation. Customers were milling about, waiting in line, talking, tapping their feet impatiently
The lady behind the counter told me: "My main copier is out of service, and I'm swamped this afternoon. I can make a copy overnight and have it for you first thing in the morning if that's okay."
"That's fine," I told her. She was very nice, and I felt sympathy. My novel could wait.
Next day, I walked in and it was less busy. She gave me an odd look as she stood near the back wall, sorting some stationery boxes. On the counter sat two reams of paper side by side. One was my original, and the other was the copy she had made of Neon Blue. I waved amiably and said Hello. Her response surprised me.
"I hate you!" she said.
I'm sure I looked stunned. Sorry? What's the matter?
She came to the counter, rubbing her hands clean with a rag. "I hate you," she repeated.
I was too stunned to replyuntil I saw the twinkle in her eyes.
She leaned toward me across the counter, with both hands on the glass, and said: "I stood there after hours, when the store was closed, and started making a copy of your novel on the small copier, one page at a time. I couldn't help it. I started readingand couldn't stop. I took the novel home and stayed up all night reading it. I'm dead tired today, and it's all your fault. I hate you!" She leaned eagerly closer and said: "I want to read your next one! How soon can I have it?"
I didn't have another suspense novel for her just then, so she faded into memory, but her praise has lasted in humor and memory for many years. This is an experience I've had many times, with many readers over the years. Continued at bottom right
It Was A Dark and Story Night
continued from bottom left). Here's another example that sticks out in memory: long ago, I paid a technical guru to tweak an early HTML copy of one of my novels. He told me the same thing as he handed the floppies over, almost with grudging pleasantry. I think the grudging was because I had not paid him nearly enough to spend a full day or two reading. But he didn't look angry about it at all.
Couldn't Stop Reading
Not everyone likes every book, obviously. If you don't like my work, no sweatthanks for stopping by, and best of luck finding the story that is right for you. On the other hand, you may be one of those readers like the copyshop lady (and others) who got sucked into the atmosphere, the characters, the story
and could not stop reading. And want more. I hope you'll go to Galley City, start reading, and feel the same way they did. Happy Reading! JTC