I asked, "Are you Armisted?" Of course, it was him, and he was as friendly as could be. A few minutes into our conversation his husband Christopher walked up and Armisted introduced us. Christopher was equally warm and friendly, and the three of us had an unhurried conversation. The timing was perfect! I got to open with, "I just read Mary Ann in Autumn (his then forthcoming Tales of the City novel) and I loved it! In fact, I currently have the number one review on Amazon." He had totally read the review, and was delighted with it. (Yay!) So we talked about his books, other books, and the weekend he'd just spent in New Mexico with about 40 other "storytellers" at the invitation of Jeff Bezos. A few other guests he mentioned were Neil Gaiman, Temple Grandin, and Gloria Steinem. He said it wasn't a business thing, Bezos just wanted to get all these people together and have them interact. I said, "It's like that game people play when they make guest lists for imaginary dinner parties. Bezos actually threw the party!"
The other reason the timing of this conversation was perfect was that there was currently a private workshop production of the Tales musical going on that month at ACT, and the casting of the fabulous Betty Buckley as Mrs. Madrigal had just been announced. It's a toss-up whether Armisted or I was more excited by the news. It's just one of those rare instances in life of absolutely perfect casting. I think it was crystal clear to both Armisted and Christopher that I was as much a theater geek as a book geek, but well-informed on both counts. So, I peppered them with behind the scenes questions about the musical. Armisted was so pleased and excited with the work in progress. He specifically commented on how much he loved the score, noting that it was very much character-driven more than plot driven. He and Christopher were planning on attending the first run-through with Ms. Buckley the following night.
I didn't want to overstay my welcome, so I left them after about 15 minutes of friendly chat. However, I saw both of them a week later at Amisted's book signing for Mary Ann in Autumn. After only a week, they both remembered me well, and again I had the opportunity to chat with each of them. In reference to the review I had written, Armisted signed my novel, "Keep pulling a Mary Ann." I also had a chance to ask a Tales-related question that I hadn't gotten around to last time. I told him that I hoped he'd continue writing the resumed Tales series for years to come and asked, "Now that you've written a Michael-centric novel and a Mary Ann-centric novel, do you think there's a Brian-centric story to look forward to? I think he needs one." Amisted responded, "It's interesting you said that. I've been thinking about it. We're the same age now." So, fingers crossed.