Wednesday, March 7, 2012

the key

Given the gift of a few hours alone, what do I do?

I get a tattoo, buy some movies from a closing Blockbuster, and suck down a chocolate milkshake.

It was a wild night, but the story is a sweet one.

That's the basis for the tattoo. It's a pen and ink drawing by artist Barry Moser.

Back in 1995, I found a first edition hardcover copy of his Pennyroyal Alice, which is still my favorite version of Alice in Wonderland ever. It cost me $75, and it took 6 months for me to save up with layaway. Mr. Moser was signing a different book at the Oxford Bookstore in Atlanta that spring, and I was so excited to go and meet him. Oxford was like being in a treehouse filled with glittery sunshine, and I had never met a real author/illustrator before, and I thought that they were some sort of mystical animal. Like unicorns. I stood in line, clutching Alice to my chest.

And he noticed me.

Out of hundreds of people, he saw me huddling behind my prized possession, and he called me to the front of the line. Back then, I didn't know that it was polite to buy the book the author was there to sign; I just saw his name listed in the paper and showed up, all hopeful and puppy-dog eyed. And he was so kind to me, so friendly, and he signed and personalized my book, which you can see here.

I've known for a while that I wanted a key, but I couldn't find the right one. I've been hunting through Etsy and Ebay and antique stores, trying to find the key that fit and practicing drawing them on my wrist with Sharpies. Then last week, it occurred to me that I should check the bookshelves. I pulled out Alice, and there it was.

As it's my book launch month, and I'm a riot of emotions, I decided to email Mr. Moser and tell him how very much his kindness meant to me almost twenty years ago, and that I still treasure his work.

And he wrote me back.

Just as kind, just as friendly, just as warm and magical. It made my day, my month, my year. And there was no longer any question about which key was the right one.

So, going with a theme, I asked local author and seriously awesome guy James Tuck to make the key real. And he did.

Book girl gets book tattoo from book guy based on long ago, book-related kindness.

It's a WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN situation.

In conclusion:

1. Barry Moser is an amazing artist, a gentleman, and a super nice guy.

2. James Tuck is a fantastic author and a great tattoo artist, and if you're in the Atlanta area, you should definitely go to Family Tradition Tattoo in Marietta, where he and Kevin and Melissa will take great care of you. But no matter where you are, if you like gritty urban fantasy, check out his book, Blood and Bullets.

3. Thank you so, so, so much for helping me out, Mom!

4. Kindness carries out in ripples and is never forgotten.

As for what the key stands for... that'll be my secret.



linda said...

The key is gorgeous! And such a great story about Barry Moser. Thanks for sharing. :)

Harley May said...

Love it!