This afternoon Annie and were walking on our usual route down 98th Street pondering the deer leg Annie had just pulled out of the weeds when a gray sedan came up from behind us and stopped. Through the open window a woman in a tie-dyed tee shirt called, “By any chance are you Sue Lick?”
“Why, yes, I am.”
It turns out she had just finished reading my book Shoes Full of Sand and she and her husband had decided to explore the areas where I wrote about walking with our old dog Sadie. When she saw me and my yellow dog, she thought that just had to be us. Of course my picture is on the back of the book, so that’s a big hint.
I was flattered that someone would read my book and want to see the areas I described and that they were excited about meeting the author.
After I introduced Annie, she said, “Don’t tell me that Sadie passed away.”
I sighed and said, “Okay, I won’t. But she’d be about 30 years old now.” Actually she wouldn’t be that old, but older than most dogs get.
Well, they were all excited to meet me in person, and I was all excited to have such avid fans–especially fans who are not my friends or relatives, but later I got to thinking. What if people read my book and came to my house? What if they weren’t nice people? There’s a danger in being recognized and having people know where you live and what you do.
There’s another complication in that whatever you say in a book is out of date even before the book is published, unless you’re writing history. A memoir is a slice of life from a particular time. A lot has happened since I wrote Shoes Full of Sand. Sadie and Fred are both gone. Some of the trails we used to hike have become so overgrown you can’t walk there anymore, but there’s a new trail I’d love to show folks. I have published two other books, and I work as a music minister at the church now. And of course now I have Annie.
It’s a real argument for writing fiction, although I’m having trouble with the 1999 novel I’m revising for the Kindle right now because my photographer heroine was still using film, which she developed in a darkroom, and her pictures were in black and white. Suddenly this once-contemporary story is a period piece.
A body can’t keep up these days. But if you see a dark-haired woman with a big yellow dog walking down 98th Street aka Thiel Creek Road, yes, that would be me. We can pretend that nothing has changed.