Little Things Mean A Lot

I grew up in Bisbee, Arizona, in the fifties, a time when the only books on sale in town were the paperbacks on the spinning rack located at the front end of the Warren Drug Company,  But even there and then, books with covers emblazoned with the words “NYTimes Bestseller” were the ones that caught the eye.  That’s still true today—making the list counts.

This week the numbers are in for Field of Bones, and they’re pretty terrific!

NYTimes Bestsellers—#15 hardback fiction and #7 combined print/e-book

WSJ—#10 hardback fiction and #5 e-book

USA Today—#10 all formats.

Whew!  Seems like a home run to me, and I’m here to thank all of my loyal readers who made that possible.  Thank you!!!  And thank you, too, to the many readers who have sent me notes saying that Field of Bones kept them up way past their usual bedtimes. That’s always fun to hear.

But in among all the Field of Bones correspondence was one with a subject line of: Walker Family.  Before I opened the e-mail, I could only read the subject line and the first few words of the message:  Thank you for saving my life.

That’s not the first time I’ve received a message like that.  On September 10, 2001, I was in Toronto, Canada, doing a book signing for Hudson News at a convention for Airport Managers from around the world.  At noon that day, I sat down and signed 400 books which were then handed out for free to conventioneers.  When the signing ended, I managed—just barely—to make the critical flight connections that had me at home in Seattle on 9-11.  I was home.  All those people in Toronto weren’t.  And one of them sent me an e-maill saying that having my book to read during that awful time “saved her life” because it took her away from the grim reality of what was showing on TV.

When I saw last week’s message from Heather Cameron in Harwinton, CT, I thought this was going to be something similar.  It wasn’t, and I’m reprinting it here:

Thank you for saving my life.  Today when I was having chest pains, thinking it was heart burn and my arm was throbbing and tingling, I remembered the Walker Family book where  Brandon had a heart attack.  Instead of ignoring my symptoms, I went to the hospital.  And yes, I was having a heart attack.  So thank you.  Your books do more than entertain.

Goosebumps anybody?  I had them again just now when I reread it!  I’m delighted to tell you that Heather is out of the hospital and recovering, partially due to the fact that she received treatment in such a timely manner!  In other words, people who may not have read the Walker books should probably take note of the words in Heather’s e-mail.  It might be life-saving information for one or two blog readers as well.

I write “genre fiction.”  I’ve often jokingly said that I write books with “no socially redeeming value whatsoever.”  I’ve also mentioned more than once that my books “can be found in better bus depots everywhere.”  I’m allowed to say that because I write to entertain.  I tell stories.

Nonetheless, occasionally people come up to me in public and sneeringly remark, “Oh, I don’t read murder mysteries.”  I get that.  They’re telling me that they are too important and that their time is too valuable to waste any of it on reading “genre fiction.”  They are certainly entitled to have that opinion although I think it’s rather rude of them to say that to me, especially at book signings!

Nonetheless, the next time it happens, I don’t think it’ll bother me nearly as much as it has in the past.  I’ll simply remind myself about Heather’s e-mail, smile at the literary snob in front of me, and tell him or her to,  “Have a nice day.”

Yes, making the lists is important, but Heather’s note was even more so.  Something I wrote made a difference in someone’s life, and little things like that mean a lot!

Thank you, Heather.

PS. Heather just sent me a note saying that Joanna and Field of Bones kept her company when she was in the hospital. Yes, that’s the ancient sacred charge of the storyteller—to beguile the time—and those days in the hospital made for time in need of beguiling.


19 thoughts on “Little Things Mean A Lot

  1. Good news! As for the I don’t read mysteries group, I only care when the speaker is a librarian! My local library has been rearranged. No longer convenient for this 80 year old! This has happened before but within a few months, the situation is corrected. I have to dig for my favorite authors on Amazon.

    I know the strangest things and I always credit my mysteries, explaining they better have their facts straight!

  2. Murder mysteries and series type books are my favorite. I love following a continuing story and characters. Keep up the excellent work.

  3. Alas, I am 1 of your new readers and take every word in. Yes, I got goose bumps to reading about Ms. Walkers symptoms of a heart attack and how she remembered Brando having the same symptoms.
    Are you ever going to be in the Boston or south of Boston for a book signing?
    I hope so.
    Enjoy your day.
    Stephanie Barrett

  4. I got the new Sheriff Brady at the library this week, and I finished it last night, so it’s my husband’s turn to read it before I rush it back to the library so others can have it, too. Good book, but the chapters with the killer and his victims got to me so much that the first night I was reading it I stopped, and picked up another book, in hopes of avoiding nightmares. Then I made sure the rest of the hours I read it was in daylight.

    As a former librarian, for 30 years, one of the things I read somewhere and told everyone was “never apologize for your reading tastes”, just enjoy. I have always enjoyed mysteries and I think it shows I’m curious, a good trait. I can’t imagine why any book snob would go to a book signing for a genre they did not like? Weird!

    Thank you for writing so many good books.


  5. I loved Field of Bones! I SO wanted Latisha to live. Every word was entertaining and suspenseful, doing what they were meant to do. Ignore the book snobs because unbeknownst to them, they just don’t get it. It’s their loss!

  6. One thing that I like about your books is that you have given us information about creeps on the Internet and introduced us to the way modern detectives do their jobs.
    They have so many new tools that make their jobs easier.

    I was lucky to have a mother who let us read anything we wanted—except movie magazines like Photoplay which we sneaked peeks at in the beauty shop.

    Please keep doing what you are doing.

  7. I very much enjoyed Field of Bones. I kept me engaged thru the entire book!
    Congratulations on the success of the book. Can’t wait for the next book to come iut!

  8. Some people just don’t know what they are talking about. If they haven’t read one of your mystery novels, they should just be quiet.
    I am a Big Fan! You have more than entertained me with your many stories that take place in around my adopted city of Tucson, AZ.
    My partner Rob and I also enjoyed meeting you, person to person, at your book signing for “Man Overboard”. You yelled out to your husband, “These are the two
    I told online to be here or else!”
    We continue to follow you at the Tucson Festival of Books! Never Stop Writing!

  9. I’m back in Bisbee and will be waiting for Field of Bones to be available in the library. Attempting to stretch my retirement income to the end of the month doesn’t include much discretionary spending. Before my heart attack, I was working one day a week at a shop on Main Street with used copies of your books prominently displayed. Of course I’ve read them all! I had a false alarm several years ago that turned out to be GERD, so I was convinced that’s what was going on. Finally went to CQ hospital ER and was diagnosed with a heart attack. I kept telling them I couldn’t go to Tucson because of my dog and cat but finally realized I HAD to go. It’s Bisbee, so I was able to have a friend take care of my boys until I returned from TMC.
    Scary stuff. Thanks for all your wonderful books. They are treasures as far as I’m concerned.

  10. Congratulations on the ranking of Field of Bones on the NY Times bestseller lists as well as the other lists.
    Your books are so informative and enjoyable to read. The only one of your books I do not have is your book of poetry After the Fire which I requested for my birthday.
    I love mysteries, police stories and adventures.
    My parents always encouraged my love of reading and would always allow me to purchase books from the school’s Scholastic Book Club. I never asked for toys growing up; it was always books. I discovered that I could always get a book if I asked and it did not have to be a special occasion. We were a family that always read.
    I have always said that books are my friends. I love the feel of a book in my hand, more so than a tablet, although I do read books on it. I have traveled the world through books, discovered many things I did not know, became an expert in some fields, and found so many new friends bound in pages of books!
    Thank you for truly being my favorite author!

  11. Can’t wait till Field of Bones is at the library. I go to this small library but they know you are my favorite author and always order your books. Have share with them that I met you at your event on the Tohono Oodham reservation a few years back. One of the highlights of my life! Thank you so much for the entertainment and joy you have brought to all of your readers.

  12. Will bookmarks be available (after your shoulder improves) for Duel to the Death and Field of Bones?
    I certainly understand if you are unable to sign them at this time but just want to be sure I did not miss a posting about them.
    Take care of your shoulder and try to stay on your feet. No more tumbles on steps.

    • Great. I will send self addressed stamped envelope.
      I promise to not grade you on penmanship!
      Thanks so much! Have a blessed day!

  13. Just finished “A Proof of Life”, your latest J.P. Beaumont novel… To me he is the best of all your characters…I’ve loved him and his life ever since your first novel about Beau…I hate alcoholism in any shape, way or form (coming from a family of alcoholics) and yet I love him..I too had knee replacements and identified all the way with him on this one!!! Not too crazy about his wife “Mel”, but she is growing on me..Looking forward to his future adventures as a PI.. Thank you so much for creating him and enriching my life…I do also enjoy Joanna Brady…Stay healthy and happy and keep writing these marvelous novels!!!

  14. I can’t say any of your books saved my life but all of them have given me many hours of enjoyable reading. And I’m looking forward to many more enjoyable hours reading your up coming books. The only problem is you can’t write fast enough for most of us. We finish one book and we’re ready for the next one, which isn’t finished yet. So keep ’em coming.

    Thank you so much.

  15. Love all your books, usually the Ali series are my favorites. And any book that takes place near where I grew up and recognize the names of streets or restaurants. However Field of Bones was AMAZING. Usually when I’m tired and read in bed I can get in a chapter or two then I’m out. I told myself 1 more chapter, but alas it was the chapter when Latisha made her escape attempt. My heart was pounding, I could not put the book down, I had to know what happened. And I finished it that night–oops no sleep for me. I have to say thank you for letting her live and for having her parents react the way they did and for having them search for her all that time, it was a wonderful surprise. I love when don’t figure out how it will end and this book was full of wonderful endings. Maybe Latisha can star in her own series???? Can’t wait for the next book.

  16. I want you to know that when I met you in Phoenix about 10 years ago, I was in agonizing pain. I just had my gallbladder out but I got in the car with my now wife and hunted you down. We went south instead of North and I missed your reading. I almost missed you. I was glad I didn’t. By the way, once when we were in Bisbee for gay pride, I suggested to the Copper Queen to make a room with your name on it, and they did! The first time I went to Bisbee, we turned the corner and there was a huge sign that said, Welcome, Donna! (It was for a hairdresser changing shops……

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