"Don't you wish that you could write some thing like 50 Shades of Grey?" someone asked me recently. A few years ago, I almost had my chance. Unfortunately, there was no happy ending.
I was a vendor at a writer's conference in Phoenix. I had spent fifty dollars to rent a table to hawk Rattlesnake Lawyer. In addition to the blank table, the organizers provided a gift bag with the sponsor's name prominently displayed on the handle. The sponsor was a publisher that had an exotic name and a tag about fantasies coming true.
When I heard the word fantasy, I thought about Lord of the Rings, the Narnia and my personal favorite the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. I had billed Rattlesnake Lawyer as a darkly comic legal thriller, but I cam up with the obvious pitch. Dan Shepard, the young public defender, is transported to a magical world and is the public defender of the dwarves. A preliminary hearing with the Elves as attorneys and an angry wizard threatening to turn Dan into a newt pretty much writes itself.
The publisher had a table right next to mine, so I asked the heavy-set woman if I could have a pitch session before the doors opened for the day. "Have I got a fantasy for you," I said, visions of Valinor dancing in my head.
As there was no one else in the room yet, she reluctantly agreed to chat. "What's your fantasy?" she asked. She had a resemblance to the opera singer Susan Boyle, AFTER she got famous. Susan looked at me with lonely eyes, was she trying to pick up on me? All the better for my pitch.
"You've heard of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court? This would be a New Mexico Public Defender instead."
Susan frowned."Is there sex in it?"
"I guess so," I said, surprised by the question. Some of the elves in Lord of the Rings weren't that bad. I could see Galadriel getting it on, but certainly not with dwarves or hobbits.
"Do you know what we do?" Susan asked. "We are an erotic fiction publisher."
"Erotic fiction?" I blushed. "I thought fantasy meant fantasy like Lord of the Rings." I was so embarrassed that I beat a hasty retreat much like the orcs in the battle for Gondor.
"Call us back when you've got something," she said.
I've still never called. However, more people 50 Shades of Grey sounds better than Only 49 Readers of Rattlesnake Lawyer. Who knows, maybe there will be a Rattlesnake Romance someday.