New Kid

Posted by on August 21, 2013

A Monday Morning Memo from The Wizard of Ads

My mother and I pack our few possessions into boxes we have found behind the grocery store, then drive to the house we’ve rented in the poorest part of town. I stack the boxes on the kitchen floor, then go in search of the sweet fragrance that hangs like mist in the still summer air. Stepping into the backyard, I see that honeysuckle vines wrap a chicken-wire fence in a thick carpet of green leaves and yellow flowers. I stare at the honeysuckle and smile into the sunlight.

Across the fence an old woman is working in her vegetable garden, watching me in the way that old people sometimes do. After a few moments, she straightens her back and says, “Climb over. I’ve got something to show you.” I hop the fence where the honeysuckle is thinnest and follow her into a tiny garage where she points to a cardboard box. “My son loved those books, but he’s gone to college now. He said to give them to an eleven year old boy. Are you eleven?” I nod that I surely am.

The box contains all the adventures of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, and inside each cover is a name written in blue ink, “Sammy Haggard.” It’s a signature that will forever be etched in my memory because Sammy Haggard made it possible for me to spend an entire summer traveling the solar system in a spaceship called Polaris, with a new friend named Tom Corbett.

When you’re the new kid and you don’t know anyone and your parents are getting a divorce, Jupiter is a pretty great place to be.

Thank you, Sammy Haggard. I’ll always remember your name.

Roy H. Williams

I apologize for my melancholy tone this week, but I was reminded of this, the beginning of my career as a writer, when my publisher called to say that we weren’t going to make the bestseller list even though The Wizard of Ads sold enough copies last week to place it near the top of the lists of The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Businessweek magazine. To put it simply, a certain influential person who works for one of the major book chains decided not to report the sale of our book through their stores. I could tell you why he felt he should bury us, but you’d never believe me.

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