Does greatness have a glow?

Can I say I was in it?

Once, back in 2012, I met Richard Ford. He was everything you’d expect him to be. Funny, a little sarcastic, and a good boozy writer looking for a good time. He’d read at the Clemson Literary Festival and we ended up side-by-side at Nick’s afterward. I think I was old enough to not make him feel like a pervert for flirting (I was 32) and young enough to be a flattering companion.

In any case, I told him how much I’d hated Rock Springs when I first read it and how reading it later, that day in fact, I’d been able to connect in a way I never thought possible. He said it was called empathy. I argued it was more than that.

Greatness like Richard Ford’s is that storyteller ability to connect with a reader. To change the reader. I want to be able to do that. Shortly afterward, I started to pursue writing more fully. I had stories to tell now, finally, in my 30s.

The first of these stories is an old one, it’s After December and I first wrote it in seventh grade. Then in high school. Then in college. And finally in my 30s. It’s a love story for me, a love letter to Northern Virginia.

Today it was featured on a list that made me think I have often stood near enough to greatness for some of said greatness to bless me like pixie dust.

Sue Monk Kidd and Madeline L’Engle have books on this promotional list and After December is RIGHT THERE between them. Holy fucking cow, man. I hope this will be the first of many, “I can’t believe I’m actually here,” moments.

There’s a complete interview, too. See that here. And in it, I hope I don’t sound like too much of a dork when I say I want my books to leave readers breathless. Cuz that’s true. I’d like to be the one that someone reads and says, “That’s how it’s done.”

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