Thursday, October 25, 2007
Aussie Amy and the Quest for cheap Tex-Mex: a letter to Dean Koontz
Amy came from Australia. Much like their boomerangs, her life had curved around Oklahoma, across the sea, through Europe, and into the Outback looking for identity. Instead she found Simon and a love for Cadbury chocolate.
She worked as one of my writers while temporarily living in Oklahoma, her birthplace and a rock in her shoe. We became great friends because I had rarely been out of the state and loved it dearly. She was the wind. I was the earth.
It was a night much like this one, much like any other, much like others to come. We were bopping around in my Jeep, a term I use because the shocks are bad. She was chasing a story, I was chasing a warm burrito. We took one vehicle believing fate would take us to both destinations.
Fate often multi-tasks.
I pulled into the driveway of a typical Continental house, stark white in the darkness, like hair freshly bleached. It smelled like it too. The lights weren’t on. No need for additional illumination with that house color.
Amy climbed out, grabbing her pad and pen, draping her canvas purse across her chest like Captain Jack Sparrow’s sword holder. In modern times and to a modern community newspaper reporter, one’s bag was one’s sword holder, a place to rest one’s pen while stretching the cramped muscles in one’s hand.
She turned back to throw a smile over her shoulder (excess UK chocolate creates joyful dispositions) and noticed the book in my lap.
“Dean Koontz?” She said it like you had broken a past engagement three days before the ceremony leaving her with seven toasters, three sets of Ginsu knives, and a waffle maker to return.
“Uh yep,” I said, lifting the book from my lap. If I was going to be sitting in the car, excuse me, superior SUV of humble birth and beginning, while she was inside working, by golly, I was going to be reading. Besides, it was a dang good book.
“YOU read Dean Koontz?” she asked, standing outside the vehicle.
“Appears that way,” I said.
“I don’t believe it.”
I started to feel like I wasn’t being a very good friend, like I had broken the cardinal rule of friendship, like I had dated an ex-boyfriend while simultaneously losing weight.
“What’s wrong with Dean Koontz?” I said, turning the book from front to back, looking for anything icky stuck on it.
“YOU Tara? You read Koontz,” she said, more to herself than me. What the heck had you done to the girl?
“What’s wrong with Koontz?” I said.
“I don’t like him.”
“Have you read him before?”
“What made you read him now?”
“I don’t know.”
“Are you going to read him again?”
She shook her head.
“Why don’t you read Koontz?” I asked, still looking for something sinister on the jacket cover.
“He scares me.”
Seriously? Scary? We’re talking about world-traveler Amy, Miss Adventure, Miss I-love-staying-in-scary-hostels-and-sleeping-in-rooms-with-perfect
-strangers-all-by-myself Amy. I had barely traveled outside my own time zone. I had never been on a plane. I thought people still spoke English on the east coast. How could I be doing something, anything, she was too scared to do?
“I think he’s funny,” I said, defending your honor.
“Funny? Are you joking?”
Yeah, that wasn’t a joke. If I was going to tell a joke, it’d be a whole lot funnier than that, something about a priest and a rabbi. Maybe I’d throw in Paris Hilton too because it’s my joke and I can.
“I don’t get you. But I don’t have to. Aren’t you supposed to be interviewing someone?” I reminded her, ready to open this book and get this party started.
“Wow Tara. You really surprise me,” and with that she closed the door, off to her interview so we could move on to my destiny – a bean and cheese burrito.
That was years ago. I’ve been reading you ever since, mostly because you’re just good but also because you smile big in your jacket photo. And I like Trixie. She’s got a mauvais ane presence. That’s “bad ass” in French (it just sounds classier and my mom doesn’t pick up on the profanity).
I wrote this lengthy explanation because…well…hmmm…because I wanted to show how much I love your writing. And because I got home early tonight and am wired from a coffee enema.
You are my favorite, like the color green and the actor Cary Grant. And I thought you should know.
I wrote a book. I know, who hasn’t? Well, not me. I have. Much like my neighbor, my favorite grocer and my dog. We’ve all written. It’s a long story and trust me, the Amy story is short, so I won’t go into it. But I did it.
This isn’t an inquiry for you to read it or endorse it or use it for paper mache. But I wrote this thing, this beast, this quirky organism, and now it’s being read by others. It’s a book about single life as an adult female who has been saved by Jesus Christ. Or you could call it Christian, but I prefer the former.
It wasn’t even my idea. It was the spawn of a suggestion by a writer friend of mine, Jim Stovall (who doesn’t mind when I spill drinks in nice restaurants, gotta love that guy), and it’s matriculated from there.
He said write about single life. I said, “Seriously? What have I got to say?” But as you can see, it doesn’t take much to get me talking. Besides, I love my life. I laugh at my life. I decided it was time we all got a chuckle.
There is a group reading it now. We’re meeting in a few days for me to receive feedback. And I suddenly realized how naked I feel with something so personal riding around in cars, sitting next to toilets and on coffee tables, left on desks and used as coasters, there for anyone to gawk and gander.
Anyway, my point. A little round by now but here it is.
Positive feedback is important. I need it, hope to get it. And despite your success and wide appeal (except for Amy), I bet you need it sometimes too. I’ve been reading you for years but never said a word about it. That’s unacceptable. If we can’t be bothered to express positive things in life, perhaps we should shut-up.
So here it is:
Your writing speaks to me. I marvel at it. I laugh heartily. I even giggle. I shake my head in awe. I jump up and down in libraries and bookstores, even in my living room when I’m surfing Amazon and find a Koontz book. You make me think, you puzzle me. I’ve sat there, wherever you are – a desk, a couch, a diner, a park bench – writing your creations, and I’ve patted you on the back. I’ve given you high fives and thumbs up. I’ve read your lines out loud and waited for the audience reaction. I’ve nodded in agreement and dropped my jaw in surprise. I’ve stayed up late, I’ve gotten up early. I’ve ignored calls and dinner and the need to pee. I’ve invited you into my home, into my little world, into my backpack and taken you everywhere. I’ve befriended you and you’ve been a friend to me.
God has given you a great gift. Thank you for sharing.
This is according to Tara Lynn Thompson of Tulsa, Oklahoma who finally got on a plane last month, who loves to eat peanut butter from the jar, who is addicted to chapstick and fuzzy blankets and who is no one important except to her family and friends.
And she’s good with that.
I just wanted you to know.