David Mitchell says he was never a socialite. When he decided to be a writer the little social life he had went out the door. Late nights at home, is how he described them.

Waiting in line to get my copy of The Bone Clocks signed I get a lot of strange ideas. I’ve been told I have an overactive imagination. I suppose this is the truth. Actually, I’m sure of it.

There’s this really nice bar down the street from Town Hall Seattle called The Pine Box. I don’t quite recall how many brews they have on tap, but it’s an impressive list. The building itself is an old beige and brown with white pillars outside it’s double doors. Small sapling grow in goblet-shaped pots on either side of the stairs, probably a good 10 or 15. The building is–oddly enough–shared with a firm of lawyers.

Inside is a dimly lit aisle, on the right a bar, on the left a couple booths, directly ahead all the liquor anyone could possible want.

Back at Town Hall Seattle the line snails along. I’m shocked that David is willing to personalize every book he signs and take pictures with whoever wants. It feels as though it will take all night.

When I’m faced with meeting someone I greatly admire I get a lot of silly ideas. At the time the seem great. I take another step forward in line, rounding the bend. I mean, you can’t win if you don’t play, as they say in Vegas, so why not just ask a ridiculous question? Because you don’t want to make a bad impression. . . chances are David Mitchell will never see me ever again.

The people before me have about 1,000 books of his to sign. I just have my one copy. They aren’t saying anything, not even speaking to him.

David glances up and sees me. “Thank you for your question,” he says, in his soft spoken south England accent.

“Yeah,” I respond. “David, this really weird thing happens to me when I meet someone I greatly admire.”


“I get all these ridiculous ideas about asking them out for a drink and for some reason they say yes and then one beer becomes four and four lasts until closing and we have all the amazing conversations and it’s all set to music and takes a minute and a half. It’s like a movie montage.” People around me begin to laugh.

I laugh.

David blows air through his cheeks and shakes his head, as if to say you have an overactive imagination, which is totally true.

He smiles then and we take a picture together. Then, as I’m walking away, he says, “Good luck with your writing.”


“And Alex?”


“You’re very friendly nutter.”

Everyone still in line, all around his table laugh. I’m pretty sure I didn’t give the impression I would have wanted, but I gave AN impression, so I guess that’s all I can hope for when he sees thousands of people on these book tours. But, hmmm, a friendly nutter. I guess it makes a good story.



Dear David,

This is not a real letter in the sense that I will be sending it to you, or that you will one day see it and read it in its entirety. But I have elected to write it regardless because I can’t not.

Where to begin?

I first met you in an awful place. The kind that I deplore. Seattle in February is nothing to write home about unless it to describe the horrendous whether. It makes little sense to me why a writing convention would be held there in the first place. If I recall correctly the streets were slicked with near freezing rain and the clouds filter all of the warm the sun might cast so the whole city feels like it’s under fluorescent lighting. As some cruel trick the temperature hangs at solid 39 degrees all winter long, just cold enough to make the wet chill to the bone, but not cold enough to snow. The city’s a real charmer. If I made a my own personal, “Greatest cities in the USA,” I’d put Seattle, and perhaps the whole of the Northwest, very near the bottom. Probably on either side of Detroit.

Not only does the weather ruin any chance of enjoyment of what is pretentiously coined “The Emerald City,” (I can only conclude it is referred as that because, like in the Wizard of Oz, it is full of disappointments), but the people prance about in the rain without umbrellas with smirks on their faces as though they are all in on some secret. It is wholly annoying and I can’t, for the life of me, understand what they all to be so smug about. It’s arrogance, that’s what it is, David, complete and total arrogance.

Despite the horrible weather and the unfortunate people one may have to deal with when visiting the city, I was pleased with the convention, weren’t you? Like anything of such magnitude the organization could have stood to be better, but the space at the convention center was a nice one. Once inside the doors you could forget about the rain (though not the people, ha!) and go about your business.

The book fair was a bit frightening and some of the booth were not as literary as one might hope, but some of the panels were quite informative despite the amount of literary plankton that was present. I suppose it is part of the sadness of being a published writer, is it not? that we must indulge such timid creatures.

The panel you were on was to do with the blending of fantasy and literature. It is a dangerous topic, I dare say, as unless the publisher knows your name you might not make it past the first reader–though this is not a problem for you, I’m sure. I didn’t like to say so when I came to meet you after the panel was over, but why stray from the truth of the matter, the realism of our world. Please, David, do not debase your work with the fluff of the masses in order to draw readers. Instead, take into consideration the real issues of your work. Flee from psychics and worlds beyond our own, for they are not real, true issues that illuminate our world for others; and in the end that is our job as artists, to show others the way.