Meeting Stephen Cannell

So this past weekend, instead of working I got to volunteer at Literary Orange, Orange County's premier author festival. It really was quite amazing, despite having any hopes of my ever being published absolutely crushed as I sat in on the "How To Get Published" panel discussion. I got to hear Janet Fitch (of White Oleander and Oprah fame) speak about rejections and writing and life in general, and eat some pretty fabulous food (white chocolate fondue with fresh berries + brownies = yum).

The highlight for me though was getting to meet Stephen Cannell, mystery writer, TV god, and creator of the "A-Team." For my brother and I, as quintessential children of the 80s, many a childhood hour was wasted watching BA, Hannibal, Faceman, and "Howling Mad" Murdoch, as well as other Cannell creations: Greatest American Hero, 21 Jump Street, Baa Baa Black Sheep. So as I'm watching Stephen talk about dyslexia and his fiction writing process (very similar to the way he would plot out his TV shows, he says), I text my brother, "at a talk w/ stephen cannell, creator of the ateam!!!!" He texts back, "get autograph pls!"

Now, at an author event the only courteous way you're going to get an autograph is to buy a book, which is of course the only reason authors even mingle with the masses at these things. I buy a paperback, as I've already plunked down $30 for Janet Fitch's Paint It Black and another earlier in the day. I write my brother's name on a little sticky note, affix it to the title page, and get in line. When I get to the front of the line, there's Stephen with his mirrored sunglasses (oh so Hollywood of him, since we are indoors) and his salt-and-pepper pompadour. I gush, quite embarrassingly, "My brother and I were HUGE A-Team fans!" Yeah, like he's never heard that before. Stephen says thanks, signs my book, and sends me on my way.

As I'm walking away, I take a moment to stop and read that title page. There in black ink it says, "To D-- I love it when a plan comes together. Stephen Cannell." Woo hoo! I honestly can't help but smile, as an image of my brother and I, laying on our stomachs on a heathered brown shag rug, eating Stouffer's frozen lasagna, and staring at that damn television, comes flooding back. Thanks for the memories, Stephen!

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