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"But where will I put you?"
By Scott Nicholson

I am at an author event at one of the big chain bookstores, chatting nice with the manager because book people are good people. Besides, book signings can get very lonely. And no opportunity to plug a forthcoming work should be overlooked.

I hand the manager-lady a postcard which features the cover of Thank You For The Flowers. "This is coming out in October," I say hopefully.

"It looks...interesting," she says.

"If you squint, you can see the cover blurb is by Sharyn McCrumb."

"She sells well here." As if, of course, I wouldn't.

"She writes well." Ahem.

She looks at the cover. She reads some of the text on the back of the postcard. "Thirteen stories, heh? It had to be thirteen." Smile.

Return smile.

"What type of stories are they?" she asks.

"It's a mix that I call 'suspense and imagination.' There's some fantasy and some ghost stories."

"I thought you were a science fiction writer."

"I don't have any science fiction in the collection. And the ghost stories are not really what most people think of as horror. My wife says I'm really a romance writer at heart. But two or three of the stories are mysteries." Meaning that they fit under the mystery genre and not, as far as I can tell, that the plots do not resolve.

"Thank You For The Flowers. It looks interesting."

"Coming out in October."

"Fantasy, ghost stories, mystery, romance. But where will I put you?"

I try unsuccessfully to convince her to shelve me with the bestsellers, preferably between Mary Higgins Clark and Dean Koontz. That doesn't work. After all, this is a chain, and such corporate decisions are why illiterate executives are needed.

"I can be a regional writer," I say. That seems sort of acceptable, since I live about 120 miles away. Though I'm not quite a Southern writer and I think Thomas Wolfe is highly overrated.

So maybe my book will turn up in the romance section, the mystery section, the fantasy section, the science fiction section, or the general fiction section. The place where it definitely will not be is in the horror section. Because the chains no longer have horror sections. Which is why I'm not a horror writer. Unless I have to be.

The answer, Kind Manager-Lady, is to put me anywhere. Just as long as you put me.

--
copyright 2000 by Scott Nicholson.

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