As I left Conkey's bookstore Saturday, I heard someone calling after me: "Ma'am! Excuse me, Ma'am?"
After I reflected that I'm sort of trapped in that weird, gray zone between "Ma'am" and "How old are you? You look way too young to have a book out!", I stopped and turned around to see a hip, young man, maybe around 21, jogging after me. He looked like a younger version of Anthony Kiedis.
"Are you the author who was just in the bookstore? Of course you are, you've got that thing under your arm."
No, he wasn't referring to a growth or a Pig Pen-like cloud of funk; he was actually referring to a sandwich board featuring the cover of Driving Sideways. I was carrying it back to my car.
After I did indicate that I was the author, he asked a few questions about the book and said, "Great. If you wouldn't mind my taking up a few minutes of your time, I just have a few questions for you."
I nodded, suddenly conscious of the fact that my meter had expired ten minutes earlier. Still, he was polite and I was curious, so I replied, "Sure, that's fine."
"Great. I'm writing a screenplay, and it's got four main characters ... " he proceeded to tell me about his story premise, and finished with, "and at the end they all die. What I'm wondering is this: how should I kill them?"
I grinned. I love when people ask me such unexpected questions. "Um, I don't really know much about screenplays, but--"
"Yeah, my friend read it? And she said that if she invested so much time watching four characters, she'd be pissed if they all die at the end."
"Right. Well, what's your goal in writing it?"
"Oh, you mean commercial success or whatever? I'm filming it myself."
Easy, I thought. "Well then, kill them off! Make the movie you want to make, if you're just making it for yourself."
"Oh!" He paused for a minute. "See, but I don't know how to kill them."
I shifted the sandwich board under my arm. It was getting heavy. "When I was younger, my sister and I would play a game when we washed dishes together. We called it, 'What's the worst way to die?' But I haven't thought about what we came up with for a very long time."
His eyes bugged out. In my pastel skirt, with a giant, very feminine book cover tucked beneath my arm, I looked like a schoolmarm on her way to a church bake sale. Not somebody who played gross-out, morbid games like that. Not somebody who liked zombie movies or Halloween or this author. "Wow!"
He thanked me for my time, and when I convinced him that there was indeed enough sick humor in Driving Sideways to make it worth his while, he said, "Well, thanks for listening to me. The least I could do is go back to the store and buy your book!"
Curious Filmmaking Guy? I just remembered one of the best worst ways to die that we came up with: having your skin peeled off and being dragged through a bed of salt.
Now, I hope you like the book!