By John Vorhaus
When I was a kid, I wanted to be big in the world. I didn’t know what that meant exactly, but it conjured up pictures in my mind of me wearing sunglasses, looking quite cool and feeling like a made guy, whatever the heck that was. As I grew older, as one will, I deepened my understanding of myself and realized that the fantasy of my youth involved having a hit of some kind, doing something that people in the world would note and recognize and like. I wanted my fifteen minutes of fame. Growing older still, I realized that some of the hits in my life actually happened when I wasn’t looking, and I could only really see them after the fact. One case in point: my book on comedy writing, The Comic Toolbox: How to be Funny Even if You’re Not. Written fifteen years ago, it still sells as well as it did when it launched. An ongoing hit. A minor one, but a hit just the same.
Now it’s today, and I’m releasing my new novel The California Roll, a “sunshine noir” yarn about a charming con artist named Radar Hoverlander and the not-so-charming bad crowd he falls in with. It’s not my first novel, but it’s my first one in hardback, first with a major publisher, first with publicity support. Here on the verge of its release, I don’t know if it’ll be a big hit, a little hit, or no hit at all. So far, people seem to like it. My mother likes it. But these things have a life of their own. One thing I’ve learned since I was small is not to get hooked on expectations. It will be what it is, and I’ll be happy with that.
Which doesn’t mean I ain’t pushing! I’m launching the book at Vromans on Thursday night, and my evite list numbers in the zillions. I’ve signed up to appear at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival, and even to be your humble tour guide on one of Vromans’ buses to said event. I’m writing this blog post. Check out Colorado Boulevard from noon onward on Thursday, you’ll probably see me handing out fliers. And why? Well, two reasons. First, I find this stuff fun. All of it. The public appearances, the blog posts, even the handing out fliers. Second, most important, while I’m not hooked on expectations, I certainly have them. I want this book to be large, and I’m doing what I can to make it so. If that makes me a needy, hit-happy jlub, so be it.
But I’ll tell you this, come Thursday night, I’m putting all of that out of my mind. No matter how many people come out to the launch (even if it’s only my mom), I’ll cherish the event as the culmination of a lot of hard work and a lot of creative energy spent. It’s not easy writing a novel, and it’s not easy getting one published. I’d be dumb not to enjoy the moment.
Needless to say, I’d love to share it with you. If hearing an author talk honestly about what it means to see his baby come to life (and share some tips on how its done) floats your boat, then please, by all means, stop by. I’ll read some from the book, or maybe from something else. I’ll answer questions. We’ll talk about con artistry, writing, whatever. And whether the book goes huge and I turn into a made guy (whatever that is) or it becomes just another fun read that some people found, I’ll personally look back on the evening with nothing but pride. The night my fifteen minutes of fame began.
Or, you know, not.