I am the webmaster for Terry Brooks. He has been on tour for the last few weeks for Witch Wraith and finished his scheduled events with a stop at Powell’s Books in Portland, OR. I attended that signing two weeks ago, supporting Terry as well as my fantasy anthology Unfettered, and about 120 people came to the event.
I am new to meeting fans in a professional capacity though, signing their books and being put on the spot with questions. I enjoy it but I have a lot to learn. Every fan is unique. And sitting and signing next to Terry is a dream come true, one that has allowed me to learn hands on experience. Maybe I’ve been spoiled so far. Terry is fond of saying he has the best fans in the business and he may be right about that.
We had two stories that came through the line at the Powell’s event though that broke my heart and made me realize how important these events really are.
I will tell one of those stories.
The line was long. Terry was signing hundreds of books, spending time with every fan, making the time memorable. I watched, signed copies of Unfettered when asked, and learned from the master. There were a lot of questions. And answers from Terry. And laughs from all of us.
About halfway through the signing, a man walks up with a beaten up copy of Magic Kingdom For Sale—Sold!, the first book in Terry’s Landover series.
The fan smiled, quiet, and placed the book down on the desk in front of Terry.
“This is a well-loved copy,” Terry noted. “What’s your name?”
“Jim,” the fan said.
Terry smiled. “Would you like this signed to you, Jim?”
“No, to my mother please. Linda.”
Terry took the book, already opened to the title page by the fan, and began to sign. “You are nice to stand in her stead. Where is your mother tonight?”
“She’s no longer with us.”
Terry looked up from signing the book, immediate concern in his eyes for what he had just said. I looked over too. The people in the vicinity grew quiet and listened.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Terry said.
“She passed away several months ago,” the fan explained, also recognizing the somber turn. “This book… this is the book she gave me. To get me reading. It worked. And for years, we always had your stories to share, to talk about. I’m getting the book signed to her because she never got a chance to meet you.”
Terry stood up, came around the table, and shook the man’s hand. “I would have liked to meet her, Jim. I’m happy to meet you tonight though.”
“Could I get a photo with you?” Jim asked. He looked over at me. “With the both of you?”
Fighting the sudden burn of tears, I got up. My own mother, after all, was there that night, the person responsible for me becoming a fan of Terry’s books when I was thirteen years old. Terry, the fan, and I took the photo. Terry said something along the lines of how touched he was. I could only nod in agreement, very aware of my mother nearby, unsure of my voice.
It made me realize something, something that’s important to be reminded of every once in a while. When authors tour near you, make the time to see them. Bring loved ones with you if they also read. Form those memories. While spending time with your favorite author is important, spending time with your loved ones who have your shared passions is worth so very much.
Because they become memories that last a lifetime. A bond that even death can’t break.
To matter forever.
Shawn Speakman is the author of The Dark Thorn, an urban/epic fantasy hybrid novel bestselling author Terry Brooks calls, “a fine tale by a talented writer.”