Living deep in the country, under a blessedly dark night sky, out where coyotes carol nightly outside our farmhouse windows, and then commuting to my little bookstore in a small, quiet Up North village—well, I don’t always feel like part of the larger world of books, even with a blog that is theoretically (the key word: “theoretically”) accessible to readers around the globe. So it means a lot to me when I hear from other book people far from my home ground.
On Friday morning, the day my letter appeared in the daily e-mail newsletter “Shelf Awareness,” the phone rang at Dog Ears, and the caller ID said “Partners Book Dist.” One of my new book suppliers, Partners, down in Holt, Michigan, is a wholesaler for the Great Lakes region. (They also have a Western division.) My first quick thought was, “Oh, no! Am I late paying a bill?” But that’s only happened once in all the years I’ve been buying books from them—an oversight in a busy season--so I knew almost instantly that this call wasn’t about late payment. And no, Mick was just calling to say he’d read my letter that morning and that while he considers himself rabidly anti-censorship, he wholeheartedly agreed with everything I said. We chatted a while and traded stories, me smiling the whole time at my end, feeling both visible and vindicated.
Ron Jolly, author of Northern Michigan Almanac and Michigan's Upper Peninsula Almanac and morning talk show host at WTCM in Traverse City, called last week, too, wanting information about Ellen Airgood’s forthcoming novel, South of Superior. Ron knows that I know Ellen, that David and I regularly visit Grand Marais in the Upper Peninsula where Ellen and her husband, Rick, work themselves to the bone at the wonderful West Bay Diner, and the question of her book had come up in a conversation he’d just had at the radio studio with writers Doug Stanton and Phil Caputo. I checked again, for myself as well as for Ron, and discovered the release date for South of Superior is now set for June 2011. Sigh! We all have to wait! “Well, let me know when you have it,” Ron requested, “because I want to buy it from you.” Another reason for me to smile!
Then, as I was figuratively pawing through old e-mails, deleting messages by the dozen, I came upon an e-mail from Ellen. So I did have her address! Zoom! I zipped off a message, and her quick reply filled me in with details of her Great Adventure as a Newly Published Novelist. In a couple of weeks she’s on her way to New York City—the contrast to Up North as in Upper Peninsula is so great that I can’t just say New York, much less the “Big Apple” in this context—to meet with marketing and publicity people at Penguin Books. She’ll also meet the new editor of a YA novel that’s also on the burner. How unbelievably exciting must that prospect be?
People call on the phone. People send e-mail. Northport really exists, and I must really be here and not only a figment of my own imagination. But I imagine, therefore I am, so it works either way.