Despite the fact that I have worked in the book business for mumble-mumble years (good gods, has it been seventeen!?) and I know perfectly well that Editors and Authors Are Real People, I still have to work through the ‘yikes Famous Person’ veil that descends over my eyes when I meet one. I am, as previously mentioned, deathly shy, which makes self-promotion a challenge to say the least. It also means I have a permanent inferiority complex.
Brendan Cathbad Myers is someone whose work I’ve read since he published essays about druidry in Wiccan Candles, a now-defunct Canadian publication. (You can still read his articles, though, on his web site here.) His articles demonstrated to me that there was a deeply philosophical and ethical aspect to Paganism, above and beyond the basic foci (and petty arguments) that seemed to resurface again and again.
I tend to write and publish material that has a practical application focus to it. His work is on a completely different level academically and intellectually. (His work is stuff I wish I could write. And maybe did, once upon a time in university, before I was swayed by the need for not-101 books about alternative spirituality.) So when we finally came face to face on Saturday night in the resto-bar where we were waiting for a table, I was expecting someone different. Instead, he was excited to meet me.
(Funny story: I walked into the dark and crowded area with Blade and Silly Imp and waved at everyone, including someone who I knew was Brendan from his author photo. Brendan turned to another friend of mine and said, “Who did I just wave back to?” “That would be the famous and best-selling local author Autumn!” t! replied enthusiastically and on purpose because he knows how uncomfortable I am with having fuss made about me.)
We were both excited and a bit nervous. I admire his books immensely, and he appears to like mine. Which boggles my mind, because they’re so simple as compared with his own. Apples and walnuts, I suppose; you can’t really compare such different things. We were both thrilled to meet a fellow Canadian and pagan author, and we began to chatter away. He has such wonderful experiences to share, and a sense of wonder and appreciation pervades his conversation when he shares stories and thoughts.
We talked a lot about our experiences publishing, which isn’t a surprise. We shared our frustration about the very real needs of the intermediate to advanced readership within the alternative spirituality market that aren’t being met because publishers are more interested in putting out basic books that appeal to a broader cross-section of the market. I can’t argue with their reasoning; it makes sense on a piece of paper. There will always be more people in the beginner stages of study than those who choose to continue through. At the same time, however, one of the most common requests in esoteric bookshops is “Do you have something that’s more advanced than this?” He told me about his current publisher, about whom he has nothing but positive feedback to share, and I’ll certainly look into them as I develop ideas that the publisher I’ve worked won’t touch.
We talked about the festival experience, and the need for people who have more experience under their belts to hook up and share their own experiences and thoughts. It’s hard to find stimulation when you’re the one teaching all the time. And we talked a lot about responsibility and ethics and values and other cultural themes related to his most recent book, The Other Side of Virtue (which I glowingly review in the upcoming Summer 2008 issue of WynterGreene Magazine. The short version: Brilliant, insightful, valuable. Read it.).
At the end of the evening it was hard to leave someone I’d just met and with whom I’d made such a wonderful connection. And it was truly wondrous to meet someone whom I consider an established and respected authority only to discover that he was just as eager and nervous about meeting me. I am an idiot. There is a lesson here, if only I’ll absorb and remember it. On the way to the restaurant Silly Imp told me she’d met and worked with Thorn Coyle recently, and that she thought we two were a lot alike. This was another source of ‘yikes’, as Coyle is another huge name who I respect immensely. I suspect that I will never shake the feeling that I’m a kid masquerading as a confident and qualified adult.
Apart from Brendan fitting into the group remarkably well, it was really, really good to (a) be out after dark, and (b) be out with friends deliberately ignoring what time it was. I’m paying for it now but it was good at the time, and I’d do it again (just not any time soon). We all have such a hard time scheduling things that it was remarkable to have us in one place to begin with. The only downside to the evening was that HRH couldn’t share it with us. I know he and Brendan would have hit it off rather well.
I’m feeling even more excited about the Hamilton festival now that I’ve met Brendan.