Monday, July 21, 2008

Now that's just sick

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!


  1. Worst way to go...

    suffocating under a pile of laundry.

    The indignity would be appalling.

    Glad to hear your book tour is increasing your fan base! Even if it is a slightly morbidly kooky fanbase.

  2. Oh, that is awesome. Mauled by a bear. That's just gross.

  3. YEEEOOOWWWZA!! Skinned and dragged through salt?? Oh my GAWD!! I'm going to have nightmares!! I'm glad your book signing went well though - and hey, looks like you sold another book to eh? Way to go!

  4. Such a funny story. Well, except for the skinned and salted bit.

    I've heard of lots of authors getting asked for help in reading a manuscript, or sending it to their agent, or requests like that, but never: "What should happen in my story? You tell me."


  5. TX Poppet3:23 PM

    My Mum and I used to play the Who'd Blow Up Real Good game when I was kid. It featured vaious methods of doing away with all who "need a good blowin' up", each explosive scenario more diabolical than the last. At one point we talked about marketing it as the hot new board game of the year, but in the end we both decided the rest of the world was not so macabre. Today I stand corrected.

  6. Wow, that is sooo cool! The worst way to die, and also the fact that you took took the time to answer his questions AND so cool that he was asking you THAT question in the first place!

    When I think of bad ways to die, I think back to that movie, SEVEN, with Brad Pitt and Gwyneth, although I don't remember much of it now.

    Easiest way to die if I had to kill myself: garage with my favorite CD playing and the motor running, and yeah, I'd probably try some heroin or cocaine or maybe some E or something really fun that I've never tried before I got into the car and turned it on.

    You know, if I thought about it much.

    And to Filmmaker Guy--we play "Would You Rather" with my kids and that question comes up--would you rather be eaten alive by lions on an island or be eaten alive by sharks in the ocean? Which would you choose? I think sharks cuz hopefully I will have drowned first!

    Good luck in your filmmaking!

  7. Wow. that would be a terrible way to go. I love that he bought your book, though. I was trapped at a soccer tournament all day so I couldn't go to Conkey's to see you and get my book signed. *sigh* Next time--the public library one!

  8. I would hate to be killed by a giant cheese grater. That would suck.

  9. Being constantly cut to death with a thick cardboard box edge - I shudder with the thought.

  10. I'm afraid to ask, but do you also enjoy watching scary films?? You may have a career in screenwriting afterall!

  11. Hmmm..hard to top the "peel & salt" approach, but I'd go with being dipped in boiling water; or could you die from being bored to death?

    I also hate Ma'am...I believe it should be considered a curse word...

  12. How interesting it must be to have people walk up and talk to you like that. What funny questions. I love that he looked incredulously at your schoolmarmy self when you revealed that you are really a ghoul. Heh heh,

  13. That must make you feel good, or annoyed that people will ask you how to finish their books or in this case their screenplay.
    Owowee! Skinned and then dragged through salt, what fun!

  14. Drowning in the sewer in 110 degree weather.

  15. I think the one we finally came up with was having bits chopped off in incriments, then rubbed with lemon juice or salt (never could settle on which would be worse). Then finally, since apparently bleeding to death didn't happen in such fantasies, dropped into boiling oil. Wow. Haven't thought about that one in a while. Can't see it going over well in a screenplay, but it was fun to think about when we were kids.

  16. The film seems to be very good as it featured vaious methods of doing away with all who "need a good blowin' up", each explosive scenario more diabolical than the last. At one point we talked about marketing it as the hot new board game of the year, but in the end we both decided the rest of the world was not so macabre.

  17. Toxic Shock Syndrome. That would be the WORST way to go, simply because everyone's last thoughts of you would be - an overly used tampon.

    sigh. I've missed you Jess. Picking up your book today!

  18. I'm just curious what makes you feel if a stranger comes up to you and ask your opinion. I mean, does it bother you?