I was in the hallway at the kids’ school last week when one of the moms stopped me. “I wanted to buy your book,” she said. “I found it and I was going to buy it, but then I looked inside… and it was horrible!”
I mumbled something incoherent about Seeing Red being meant as a sort of social history of blood…
“Why would you write such a thing?” she asked.
“Well, some kids like subjects like that.”
“Aren’t you worried that children are going to read your book and be incited to do violence?”
Um… no. That had never occurred to me. “I think they read worse things?” I said.
During all this, a voice in the back of my head was whispering, “Ah… so this is how Angie Abdou felt.”
I didn’t cry in the school hallway. I did stew about the conversation for a few days, and think of many, many more intelligent points I could have made.
Then the world came to my rescue. Because as I was talking with a friend in the playground (a relatively secure woman, thankfully), this same mom appeared and said to my friend, “I like your sweatshirt. Those were so in style five years ago.”
And there on the playground as I tried not to laugh out loud, and later as I made my friend feel better about her sweatshirt by telling her about my violence-inducing book, the whole situation became funny.
Plus, my schoolyard critic has given me the perfect response for the next time someone doesn’t like one of my books. I’ll say, “Well, I do like your shirt. Those were so in style five years ago.” And leave it at that.