A taste of the surreal

Here’s where I was standing when I got The Call from Connor Goldsmith:

Yeah. It was kind of a bonkers day. But my life has often seemed a strange and haphazard thing, so it only seems appropriate that one of the most significant moments of it should also be one of the most surreal. It’s actually not out of character at all. I seem destined to have important conversations in very strange places.

The story of The Call actually starts a few days earlier. Like I’ve mentioned before, I found Connor on Twitter via the #MSWL events and queried him in August of 2013. He had requested the full manuscript 45 minutes after I sent the query, but I knew then that he wouldn’t be able to read the MS for 2-3 months.

On October 7th, he emailed me to let me know he’d gotten to my MS in his pile, was about 100 pages in, and was enjoying it, and that he’d have something for me by the end of the week. I replied politely, tamping down the urge to flail, and resigned myself to spending the rest of the week with my heart in my throat.

A few days later, he tweeted this:

Because I’m me, even though I knew he was reading MS at the time, I couldn’t quite convince myself that he was talking about my book. But I hoped.

On October 11th, I went on a work retreat to Busch Gardens Williamsburg, one of Virginia’s two theme parks — and my preference, as I’m someone who isn’t crazy about rollercoasters. My boss was treating us all to a fun day out; I came down a little late so that I could give a ride to two of our staff who had a workshop that morning. On the way down from Staunton, I stopped in Richmond to get gas, and I noticed that I had an email.

From Connor.

Asking for a phone call to discuss my manuscript.

I didn’t want to delay at all, of course, so we arranged to talk at 4pm — and I just figured that, despite being at a theme park, I would find a way to be somewhere relatively quiet at that time. I also knew, from following him on Twitter, that he was at NYCC that weekend — so the fact that he wanted to make the time to talk to me that badly, despite being at a con? Hell yeah I was going to figure out a way to fit his schedule.

As 4pm approached, I begged off from my coworkers — who knew what was going on by that point, and who were all terribly excited for me — and wandered over to some park employees with what I knew was a very strange request. Was there anywhere nearby that wasn’t horrifically loud where I might be able to take a business call? They suggested down by the log flume, which was shut down for the season by that point, so it was a low-traffic area. It was, mind you, still within screaming distance of another rollercoaster, and it was in an area where the ambient sound was French Canadian country music. But that was as good as it was gonna get. To this day, I’m glad that Connor just rolled with it rather than deciding he was dealing with a madwoman.

I genuinely don’t remember much of the call itself. I know we talked about strengthening the plot from its rather quiet beats to something with more action. I know he asked to see a second draft before the end of the month. And I know I sputtered something unintelligible when he offered representation, because whatever I said, it made him respond with, “Yeah, I usually give people a minute after that.” (This particular component of the call would be repeated almost two years later, when he told me we had a deal. He had to say that three times).

And then I caught up with my team in the pub in the Ireland section of the park, and had a drink.

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Cass Morris lives and works in central Virginia and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She completed her Master of Letters at Mary Baldwin University in 2010, and she earned her undergraduate degree, a BA in English with a minor in history, from the College of William and Mary in 2007. She reads voraciously, wears corsets voluntarily, and will beat you at MarioKart.

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