On Monday, my Amazon.com sales index for VANISH took a sudden jump, and I know exactly why. I’d just spent three hours on the radio show “Coast to Coast AM”, hosted by Art Bell. (http://www.coasttocoastam.com) For those of you who aren’t insomniacs, Art’s late-night show, heard around the world, features weird and fascinating subjects ranging from alien abductions to life after death to cryptozoology. Art paid me the highest compliment I can think of; he called me “the female Art Bell.” Meaning that I share his macabre sense of curiosity. He knows I’m a skeptic about pretty much everything. Whether Art believes any of this stuff, I have no idea; he’s pretty coy about his true feelings. But we both have an insatiable hunger to know the unknowable. That night we talked, as we usually do, about medical horrors and paranromal experiences and weird diseases.
Then Art asked me the question: “Do you ever get freaked out by your fans? Don’t you ever worry about what they might do?”
Sometimes, I had to admit, I do.
I was on book tour for THE SURGEON, a thriller about a serial killer who cuts open women while they’re awake and aware and removes their organs. A very ordinary man came to get his book signed, and he leaned over to whisper in my ear: “Thank you for writing this book. You allowed me to enjoy my fantasies.” Then he picked up his autographed copy and walked out.
He looked so NORMAL. But then, so did Jeffrey Dahmer.
I’ve heard it on good authority that folks awaiting identity reassignment in the Witness Protection Program consider me their absolute favorite author. (Hey guys, I hope you, uh, find nice homes in new cities. And keep buying my books!)
Once, at a signing out west, a fan regaled me with a long and rambling story about her ex-husband that concluded with “And I was ONLY charged with manslaughter!” At which point my media escort swooped in and said, “Tess REALLY has to leave now!”
So yes, occasionally my readers freak me out. Sometimes they tell me stories that make me twitch. But more often their stories move me, or make me laugh, or comfort me. I treasure the things they tell me.
And when they write me, I always write back. (As long as their notes aren’t abusive or threatening.)
If you’ve written me and haven’t gotten a reply, check your spam filter. There’s nothing so frustrating for me than to reply to an email, and have my reply bounce back.