Actually, I've seen his picture, and he's neither big nor fat. But, he is a mensch. How do I know? Glad you asked.
I recently got the following email from him, quite out of the blue: "Dear Doreen, This is psychologist/crime novelist Jonathan Kellerman. During a recent vacation, I read QUEEN OF THE ROAD. Several times, I found myself laughing out loud – and drawing quizzical looks from my wife. Funny book. Congrats. Best, JK."
I don't know Jonathan Kellerman and I don't know anyone who knows him. (At first, I suspected my mother put him up to it, somehow. After all, she's the one who announced she was going to give a copy of QUEEN OF THE ROAD to her doorman because, "His cousin is David Letterman's floor manager!" Oy. But, after a thorough interrogation that would do JK proud, I can state beyond a reasonable doubt that she did not - put JK up to it, that is. The David Letterman thing... not so sure.) I don't even know how he found my book.
Mensch point one: He's such a mensch, did he identify himself by saying, "This is mega-bestselling novelist..." etc? No. He did not.
Mensch point two: It's a huge deal for a mega-bestselling writer like him to reach out like that. But, was that enough for me? No, it was not. (And, here is where I lose several mensch points for myself. If you get the feeling I don't care, you'd be right. What do you want from me?) My response (after gushing about how much of a fan I was and now, always will be): "As a crime novelist (not so much due to your being a psychologist) you should know that no good deed goes unpunished." I then proceded to ask for a blurb.
Blurbs are even bigger deals for any, let alone mega-bestselling writers. As a recent essay in the New York Times Book Review explained, "Book blurbs are a tangled mass of friendships, rivalries, favors traded and debts repaid, not always in good faith." Since I researched all 113 agents who rejected QUEEN OF THE ROAD (not because it sucked, people. Haven't I told you before? The common refrain, "I love it. I just don't think I can sell it."), I have a pretty good working knowledge of who represents whom in the writing biz. So now, when I pick up a book I'm considering reading and look at the blurbs, I have to chuckle thinking, "No wonder she blurbed him. They have the same [fill in the blank: editor/agent/publicist]." Even lowly me has been asked to blurb a few first-time authors (though obviously not from their agent/editor/publisher - after all, they would know better).
JK (yeah, I'm on an initials-only basis with a mega-bestselling author, so deal with it!) had no reason to reach out to me, no debt to settle, and did not ask anything in return. (Silly him. I would have had Tim do his and Faye's laundry for the rest of their lives.)
So, what was JK's response?
"A charming, insightful and – most important – hilarious book that evokes the best of Bill Bryson and David Sedaris, but spotlights the unique voice of a gifted memoirist."
What a mensch - thrice over.
His new book, Bones: An Alex Delaware Novel, is already below 1000 on Amazon and it's not even coming out until October 21st. His wife, Faye Kellerman, had her new novel, The Mercedes Coffin, debut last week at some insanely low (that's good, folks) Amazon number. So, not that they need my help, but if you want to support a mensch...
(My copies of both just arrived and I can't wait to delve in.)
- DO. (Yes, you may be on an initials-only basis with me. I'm a mensch that way - and only that way.)