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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best entertainment magazine in the UK“, Anthony J. Mohr shares experiences from his life as an author since publishing his new book, Every Other Weekend—Coming of Age With Two Different Dads.
Written by Anthony J Mohr
I never played the guitar. My stepbrother and stepsister did, but I didn’t care to. I had no desire to perform. But in the past six months since the publication of my debut memoir, I’ve appeared on podcasts, radio shows, and panels. I’ve spoken at bookstores and before a dinner audience of 150. One interview lasted an hour. I’ve been asked to write blog posts like this one. And I admit that I’ve enjoyed the whirl. There’s something invigorating about the stage, the dais, the microphones—as well as marshmallow questions that come my way. Why did I write the book? Which father did I prefer? What chapter gave me the most trouble? What’s next (As Bruce Willis says, “I’m working on it.”)
As a judge, I’ve taught dozens of classes full of colleagues and lawyers. I addressed two hundred jurists at China’s National Judges College in Beijing. You might say I’m used to the lectern, but the subject was always the law, statutes, and case cites. Nothing prepared me for that first time in front of an audience who had read, or were going to read, a book about my private life. These were not people who wanted to master the Commercial Code. They’d come to hear me tell on myself. Memoir is the literary equivalent of stripping.
Before my first appearance, at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, the butterflies wouldn’t leave my stomach alone. By the third bookstore event, I’d settled into the rhythm. I sensed that the audiences, however modest, were rooting for me. I assumed podcast and radio listeners felt the same way. If they tuned out, I’d never know.
I’m growing used to holding my landline’s receiver against my ear, waiting for the sound of a click followed by a voice saying, “With me now is a new author, Anthony J. Mohr, author of Every Other Weekend—Coming of Age With Two Different Dads. Anthony, thanks for being on my show. Let me start with this question…”
Off I go, into the tonal groove of a debut author trying to sound confident. The host plucks a snip from the book. “Anthony, your dad played villains in TV and movies. You say that when you were five, you were sure everyone hated your father. Why?
“Because,” I say, “they applauded after he died on the screen.”
“Tell us more.”
I may be at home, but I’m standing, as media coaches advise. On your feet, you think better. I look at my bookshelf before describing the time my father came home with a new script. I asked if got killed in this one, too.
“Yeah,” he said, “but it’s a really good death.”
Sometimes I reach for a joke, as my father used to do, so well that James Garner complimented him in his memoir, The Garner Files. And if I hit the punch line right, the host laughs; the bookstore audience laughs. They’re laughing with me, not at me, the difference my mother explained, also at age five.
Don’t ask if these appearances sell books. My stepfather once told me, “The name of the game is profit,” but part of me doesn’t care about that. I’m having too much fun. I don’t want the music to stop, yet stop it will. I’m probably traveling through the ninth minute of my quarter hour of Warhol fame.
A song by Bread—”The Guitar Man”—calls to me. It’s always been a favorite, and now more than ever, I can relate to the fictional musician who performs “night after night.” He relishes the cheers, the adulation that rises from the clapping hands. And maybe like The Guitar Man, I won’t notice when the crowds thin out. They will, as my pub date recedes into the offing and hundreds of new books shade mine. I wonder if I’ll trace the arc of the Guitar Man: “He’s just got to find another place to play.”
Maybe I should take up the guitar.
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