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The book tour is now wrapped up—we made our last stops,MemphisandOxford, last week. Ahhh. It’s nice to be home. Both stops were satisfying, though, with the added benefits of excellent food and a visit to Faulkner’s home inOxford.

 Twice now, I’ve had people tell me their own stories of death and loss at book-signings. One woman in Woodstock talked about her husband dying when their youngest child was four-years-old, and how a taped interview by a neighborhood high school student was the only recording they had of his voice. A woman in Memphis said her son was killed by a drunk driver, and—needing to get away somewhere, anywhere—she took a position on an archaeology dig in South America. Both times I nearly cried. I’m not sure why, although I think there’s some sort of uncomfortable contrast between the self-conscious, self-promoting vibe of book-signings (Hey, buy my book!) versus real grief and love and loss.

 I don’t think there’s such a wide gap between fiction itself and real emotion. I think that’s what every writer desperately hopes for—that in this imagined world you’ve created (and granted, it’s an imagined world well-stocked with your own experiences and emotions, even if they’re disguised), you’ve managed to tap into your reader’s life, into their minds and their secret thoughts. There’s something really humbling about the idea that a character you’ve created, a story you’ve created, can tap into the worst experience of someone’s life. It’s very intimate. It feels, I guess, like that kind of connection deserves more of a moment than a few seconds standing in line a book-signing.

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