I spent the morning and part of the afternoon yesterday hawking my books at Millers Picnic Grove in Manchester, Maryland, as part of the 2022 Day of Knowledge Book Fair. The purpose of the fair is primarily to give away books collected over the last year for that purpose. But along one wall of the hall were half a dozen of us authors happy to autograph our books for anyone who wanted to buy one.
As has happened before—I’ve been participating in the fair for a number of years—readers came up to my table to tell me how much they enjoyed books of mine they had bought in years before. Several expressed disappointment that my Friendly Casualties, previously an ebook now being brought out in hardcopy by Adelaide Books of New York, was not yet available. That was the only one of my six books they hadn’t read yet.
To say that talking to readers is gratifying is a gross understatement. Because all the stories I tell really did happen, readers know me at a level of intimacy beyond that of my own family. My Last of the Annamese, for example, is a fictionalized version of my escape under fire when Saigon fell in April 1975. That event changed my life in several ways, one being that I now suffer—and always will—from Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI). That led to another book, The Trion Syndrome, based on my struggle to PTSI.
So to me, the reaction of my readers is more a response to my life than a reflection on my art. And I am deeply grateful for their respect.