Recently I got an email from Sophie Smith, a writer in London, who recounted a description of the time she bumped into one of her favorite authors out on the street. It got me thinking about the likelihood that many of you have encountered authors over the years and that it would be interesting to hear your stories. So what say you? Do you have an author encounter you’d like to share? With any luck I would like to make “Authors in the natural habitats” a regular feature at Hogglestock. Shoot me an email and tell me your story, lets do a little guerrilla author bio project. (hogglestock [at] outlook [dot] com)
In the meantime, here is Sophie’s lovely story.
I have been spotting Anita Brookner on and off for years in the King’s Road where she lives and as I am a writer myself I have always felt a little thrill when one of these sightings has occurred. She is invariably in a skirt and jacket, very often in navy blue with court shoes to match, always chic but never showy – and that’s just for a quick dash to the shop to get some milk. One imagines her clothes may come from Jaeger in King’s Road or similar. Once, I bumped into her in Mark’s and Spencer’s which, if you are familiar with King’s Road, has a small clothes section at the front and a food section at the back, with a preponderance of upmarket ready meals-for-one perfectly suited for the many ageing Chelsea widows (and a sprinkling of spinsters) who live in the network of pretty terraced houses and flats of SW3. And there she was, rather frail on her pins, carrying a frugal-looking carrier bag of groceries and heading directly for me. Instead of observing protocol and discreetly pretending not to recognise this literary giant, thin and delicate as a sparrow with her seventy plus years at the time, I decided to risk a formidable rejection and very politely said.
“Excuse me? Professor Brookner?”
“I hope you don’t mind me stopping you but I’ve just finished your new novel Leaving Home and I just wanted to say how very much I enjoyed it. I think you’re the most brilliant writer.”
Her face lit up and she looked completely surprised.
“No, not at all. Oh, well that is nice. Thank you so much. I’m so pleased you liked it. That is nice. Not at all.”
And we parted.