Some professions seem to attract more than their share of sociopaths. Check the news about who’s going to prison, and you’ll find bankers, Wall Streeters, lawyers, and businessmen. Sharks abound in competitive jobs, the sort of people who will stab you in the back to get ahead.
But mystery authors, who write about death and dismemberment? The folks who spend their days and nights contemplating the darkest depths of evil? They’re the nicest people in the world.
In my two decades of working in this genre, I’ve met countless writers eager to lend a hand to the very people who could be considered “the competition.” When my first thriller HARVEST was published in 1996, the cover was graced with quotes by Tami Hoag, Philip Margolin, Michael Palmer, and James Patterson. They didn’t do it because they expected a favor in return; they did it out of sheer generosity.
Over the years, I’ve tried to pay it forward as well, and have lent my name to a number of new authors. I wish I could do it more, but the requests have become overwhelming and to my dismay, the galleys have piled up so high I can only crack open a fraction of them. But some years ago, I agreed to read a galley by a new-to-me mystery author named Joe Konrath. I remember not only a cracking good mystery, but also wild and laugh-out-loud humor that made it a standout. I gave him a blurb because he, and his book, damn well deserved it.
If you’ve been following Joe’s career, you know that over the years he’s traveled a unique road as a writer. He’s stirred up controversy, dished out sage and eerily prescient advice, gained an enthusiastic following, and proven to everyone that publishing has changed forever. Sometimes he makes me shake my head (That beer diet, Joe? I mean, really???) But he’s someone I’ve always admired, not just because he’s a good writer, but also because he’s a nice guy.
Last week, I found out just how nice a guy he is. He posted this on his blogsite.
He’d heard about my Alzheimer’s Research fund drive, and he decided to help out. I didn’t ask him to. I didn’t even tell him about it. He just decided he was going to step in as a friend and join me.
This is the sort of gesture that makes me, literally, choke up. I was in a hotel room when I read what he’d written and I actually felt like crying, it was such an astonishingly generous thing he did.
You see, this is why I love this business. Yeah, it’s great being paid to write stories and see your books in stores. But it’s just as great to meet people like Joe. I wish every profession had more people like him.
And if you want to get choked up, you should read some of the very moving tributes people are posting, about loved ones who’ve succumbed to Alzheimer’s Disease. I invite everyone to add their own tributes. I know there are many, many stories to be shared, and please feel free to add yours.