Saturday, February 19, 2011

My Famous New Friend

If you're a genre reader like me, you undoubtedly recognize the name Lawrence Block. He's been making a living as a crime writer since the mid-1960's - since the 1950's if you take into account books he wrote under pen names - and has created the memorable characters, Matthew Scudder, Bernie Rhodenbarr and the amiable, introspective contract assassin Keller.

Yeah, that Lawrence Block. The legendary one, the guy the Mystery Writers of America selected as a Grand Master in recognition of his achievements in the field all the way back in 1994. The guy who, even a half-decade after publishing his first novel, will have new material hitting the bookshelves this year.

Lawrence Block friend-requested me a couple of days ago on Facebook.

I've been pretty aggressively expanding my social networking over the last year or so, hoping to use the tools of the electronic age to help publicize my debut thriller, Final Vector, and I have to say the experiment has been wildly successful, giving me the opportunity to network with fellow authors as well as potential readers.

I now consider people friends despite the fact I've never actually met them. I've renewed long-dormant relationships with people who in an earlier age would simply have faded out of my life. I've developed contacts with people I have then worked with in various aspects of promoting my work.

So the fact that another author would friend-request me is not all that surprising. It happens pretty frequently and I do the same thing quite a bit myself. But Lawrence Block? The guy is, literally, a legend in the crime fiction world.

Here's the background. Last week Blogcritics ran an interview with me which was picked up by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in which I was effusive in my praise of, you guessed it, Lawrence Block. You may not have noticed, but I'm a pretty big fan.

Well, apparently Lawrence Block reads either the Blogcritics web page or the Seattle newspaper, because late in the afternoon on Thursday I signed into Facebook and discovered a friend request waiting for me. From Lawrence Block. In it, he thanked me for the complimentary words I had for him in the interview.

I think that bears repeating. Lawrence Block thanked me for the kind words. To put that in context, I like to think of it like this: The guy who has written 61 novels (as far as I can tell) thanked the guy who has written one novel for some nice things he said.

That just blows me away. I understand he is just a person like you or me, but how easy would it be for someone as accomplished as he is to read the words of praise and nod sagely at another peasant recognizing the king's greatness? Instead, he took the time to seek me out, friend-request me, and add a personal note to the request.

My only regret is that there was no way of saving that note. Once I accepted the friend request, it disappeared. However, I sent Mr. Block a message on Facebook telling him what a huge fan I am - basically drooling like a lovesick teenager, sort of like I am now - and he was kind enough to answer my message with one of his own, which will remain in my Facebook messages forever, or until I accidentally destroy my account through my technological ignorance.

I'm not going to get into what was discussed, I'll only say this: I now know Keller's next target of assassination.

Just kidding, but I'm sure I'll know soon, now that Lawrence Block and I are, you know, practically best friends.


Adelle Laudan said...

That's awesome, and very refreshing to hear of a successful author who remains approachable.
Congrats on 'meeting' Lawrence Block.
Waving hello from KB.

Al Leverone said...

Hi Adelle, he's not just approachable but also still extremely productive and busy. He's a guy, as I said in my interview at Blogcritics, that any genre writer would do well to emulate.