Sunday, October 18, 2009

Meeting a Moose and a Mystery Author

There were two "fun" things on my list of 2009 goals: seeing a moose in the wild and meeting author Dennis Lehane. I figured that fulfilling either would be fascinating – and I was correct.

I met goal No. 1 in June when, using the “but it’s my birthday” excuse, I dragged Husband No. 1 and Son No. 2 to northern New Hampshire to find not one, but four, of the magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. (Click here for the recap.)

I figured tracking down Dennis Lehane would be more difficult. Although he lives in Boston part of the year, I don't think he's made many public appearances since the 2008 publication of “The Given Day,” his epic set in Boston around the time of the 1919 policemen’s strike. One presumes that’s because he’s been at his desk writing or in Florida teaching.

Many people are familiar with the films made from three Lehane books: the incredible “Mystic River” with Sean Penn and Tim Robbins; “Gone, Baby, Gone” with Casey Affleck and Morgan Freeman; and the upcoming “Shutter Island” due out in February and starring Leonard DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley.

I am a huge fan of most of Lehane’s work. I was blown away by “Mystic River” but hated “Shutter Island.” And I adored his gritty mystery series featuring smart-mouthed Boston Private Investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro. “Gone, Baby, Gone” is the fourth of five of those books. When he decided to end the deliciously dark string, I was devastated. I blame my grief for not yet reading “The Given Day” or “Coronado,” his short story collection.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was a few weeks ago to learn not only will his next book resurrect my favorite series, he was scheduled to sign the new paperback version of “The Given Day” at my local Barnes & Noble.

A week ago Thursday, I lined up with about 45 other fans -- plus camera-toting Husband No. 1. To my dismay, store management was so apprehensive about the potential size of the crowd that it downgraded his “reading” to a “signing.” Nonetheless, I was still going to meet Dennis Lehane – and my goal.

When it was finally my turn to bring my book to the desk for his autograph, I told him about my goals to see a moose... to which he interjected “that’s cool” … and to meet him, to which he said, “awwwhhh” as if he were truly touched (although maybe he just thought I was “touched,” as in mentally unbalanced).

In any case, it made it easier to issue an invitation for him to make his first appearance at the annual New England Crime Bake Conference for mystery writers and readers, which I’m on track to co-chair in November 2010.

Apparently our conversation continued longer than the store personnel and fans preferred. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Husband No. 1 snapping photos while the manager seemed to be wavering between calling security and tackling me himself. Apparently he doesn't have much respect for my goals.

I finally moved on after Dennis wrote down his assistant’s contact information. A few days later, she e-mailed that next year’s Crime Bake is on his calendar.

With two months still to go until the end of 2009, I am delighted to have already met my “fun” goals and contemplating the 2010 list. It’s much more enjoyable than dwelling on those pesky objectives I’m still trying to meet – like finishing my novel.

Did you set any “fun” goals for 2009? Did you accomplish them? Please share by leaving a comment below – maybe I can use them for my 2010 list!

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