Kevin was the big name guest of honor with a countless number of bestsellers under his belt, yet he was humble, down to earth and approachable - he was friendly and courteous with everybody and treated other no-name author guests like myself with the utmost of professional courtesy and respect.
On top of that, he was fascinating to chat with and listen to on various panels - I had the pleasure of being on a couple of panels with him and fortunate to be moderator so I could ask questions to which I really wanted to know the answers.
So when I saw a post called Creating My Own American Dream on Kevin's blog the other day, talking about the steps he followed, from a very young age, to become a writer, it reminded me of the wealth of information he doled out that weekend last year.
I was particularly captured by the following sentiment...
By the time I was ten, I had saved up enough of my allowance to buy either my own bicycle or my own typewriter. Even though every other kid I knew had a bike, I decided on a Smith Corona Electric cartridge typewriter, which I used to rewrite that ever-growing novel, The Injection.
I did a similar thing that Kevin did. Where it was him, at eight, discovering his father's typewriter, for me it was my mother's old Underwood typewriter I discovered; and that one summer at the age of fourteen that I spent hunkered over the typewriter in the basement working on a fantasy novel while my friends went on bike rides, swam in the pool and played baseball.
The novel I wrote that summer, The Story of Aaron Boc, was terrible, but represents a big part of my journey from wanting to be a writer to becoming a writer. It was a "learning" novel - I had to learn about form and structure and plot arc and character development -- and just as importantly, I had to learn about discipline (ie, sitting at a typewriter while everybody else was outside playing) I also had to learn that to write one good thing you perhaps had to write a dozen other things, some of them practice, some of them garbage, some of them salvageable with yet another edit. I'd never consider pulling that summer's manuscript out of the drawer it sits in, because I know it sucks; but I'll always cherish the learning experience that working on it was.