Tuesday, February 17, 2009

E. Lynn Harris

Last night my favorite gay boyfriend and I went to see New York Times best selling author E. Lynn Harris at Powell's Books.  I was expecting Harris to read from his new book, Basketball Jones, about a closeted NBA player. Instead, Harris announced that he didn't read from his books at stores like that because there were often children wandering around and his books were too salty. I was disappointed at first, but as he started talking, I realized it was a gift to hear a very successful writer talk about his life and his craft. I was inspired. 

He described one of his first readings, which was at a gay bookstore. He had picked a juicy section to read for that crowd. But just as he was about to read, he noticed his mom was in the audience. He had to quick pick a new section to read.

In another tale, he spoke about meeting one of his favorite actresses after a Broadway play. She came out the stage door and he was there waiting, along with a bunch of other people.  After talking with everyone except Harris, and signing everyone's autograph's, she quickly hurried down the street. He stood there dejected.  

She was halfway down the block, when she turned on her heels, came back and asked him, "Were you waiting for me?"  He said he never forgot that moment and has since made sure he always makes time to talk to fans. 

With those two stories in mind, I approached him at the table where he was signing books and told him how I too struggled to find some appropriate content to read when my parents came to our book reading. (We read from the section on "Chores" and even had to edit that somewhat!) 

E. Lynn Harris held my hand and looked me in the eye while asking about my book. He smiled when I told him the name and said he's often been told he needs to have a lesbian character in his books. We chatted about Alyson Books and its new editor Don Weise. 

I said I wished I had brought a copy of our book for him. "No," he said, "I'm going to go online and buy it."  Wow, what a great ending to a great night. 

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