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An Author Walks into a Bookstore

and asked for books on Roswell, New Mexico.

Oct 3 Author Bookstore Pauline Baird Jones Facebook

An author walks into a Barnes & Noble store and asked for books on Roswell, New Mexico.

Where does the helpful help desk clerk send her?

To the travel section.

This was not a joke with a bad punch line but a true story.

I wasn’t sure they hadn’t shelved the books in travel so I went and looked. Then I went back to the “help” desk.

“You don’t understand,” I said. “I need books on Roswell. You know, where the alien ship crashed.”

I wish I had a picture of the clerk’s face. There is no describing that look.

“Roswell. Aliens,” I say, more gently because she’s not young. “Just type Roswell, New Mexico into your computer.”

She put her hands on the keys, but I could tell she didn’t want to. I nodded encouragingly. Finally she typed the words and hit “enter.”

And then jumped back at what the computer produced. There are a LOT of books about the Roswell incident.

She looked at me again, this time like I was a kook. I smiled a bit uneasily. “Can you tell me if you have any of them in stock and where they might be in this store?”

It only took me twenty minutes and two trips to the help desk to get to the right section.

This is not that unusual when you write science fiction. And not just from bookstore clerks who think you’re a kook.

It’s always interesting to tell people I write science fiction romance and then wait for it. I can almost see them thinking, “You don’t look like a science fiction romance writer.”

I’m not even sure what that means. What does a science fiction romance writer look like? 

All the writers — of all genres—look like people. And not one of them looks like the other one. 

(Okay, did that make you feel like you’d wandered into a Dr. Seuss post? Or maybe it’s a Sesame Street episode. Let’s all sing together, “None of these authors is at all like the other ones…)

And me? Well, I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, and author, which means I look just like an ordinary person. All the weird stuff happens inside my head.

What do you think an author is supposed to look like?

Perilously yours,