Back in 2006, I had an interesting experience, one I'll never forget. It taught me that readers and fans were to be valued above all else in this industry. Without readers and fans, I'm just someone with a lot of crazy ideas who happens to type them out.
On this particular day many years ago, I packed up my laptop and headed for my favorite haunt, a local coffee shop. I got there in the morning, sipped four jumbo mugs of cinnamon hazelnut coffee, had lunch (the Cheryl's Special Quesadilla), then later had a slice of lemon poppy seed loaf. I didn't leave until after 10:00 PM.
Talk about buzzed!!
I worked on Children of the Fog, my new suspense novel that asks, "How far would you go for your child?" (It's now in the hands of my agent.) I wrote in a frenzy, finishing 2 chapters, plus some editing. I was lost. Lost in my world--the one I had created for Sadie and Sam, the mother and son in my novel.
Then a small voice brought me back to reality.
"Are you Cheryl...T?" a young girl asked hesitantly.
"Yes," I answered. "Are you a friend of my daughter's?"
The girl shook her head. "I read about you in the bathroom."
I smiled. I had two posters on the bathroom walls of the coffee shop--one with the cover of The River, one with the cover of Divine Intervention.
"Do you have any of your books here?" the girl asked me.
Without a second thought, I put aside my laptop and searched the canvas tote bag, coming up with one Divine Intervention and the very last copy of The River (it had sold out across Edmonton by December 20th).
"I have both," I said.
She immediately raced off. "I'm going to tell my mom!"
A minute later, she reappeared with her mother in tow. The girl's enthusiasm was contagious and for a moment, I forgot they were here to see me...and not some rock star. :) The mother introduced herself and asked about my books. A minute later, Julie was writing me a cheque and I was signing her new books. Her daughter smiled all the while, then made my day all the more special by a simple request.
"Can I have your autograph?"
"Of course," I said, happily signing one of my bookmarks for her.
Julie walked away with her 2 books, while her daughter skipped away with her treasure--the bookmark.
I had to smile. The simplest of things and a few minutes of my time had made two people happy.
It wasn't until I got home that I recalled the girl's words: "I read about you in the bathroom." How funny that seems now.
Back then, I was confused. I realized that my posters couldn't possibly have indicated who I was. After all, they showed book covers, not ads saying, "Look for the woman with red hair typing maniacally on a laptop. That's Cheryl Kaye Tardif."
So how had she known?
When realization hit me, I began to laugh. You see, earlier that day I had switched the cover posters in the men's and women's washrooms. And I removed two smaller signs that announced a past book signing event. On the bottom of those signs I had mentioned that I could often be found in this coffee shop. There was even a small photo of me. But I had folded the signs in half and tossed them in the garbage can.
THAT'S how this young girl knew who I was.
Bless her heart for being so interested! :)
~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
author of Whale Song, Divine Intervention and The River