While on a book tour, my co-authors and I adopted three unicorns and took them along as we buzzed around Manhattan in the back seat of a hired Cadillac SUV.
Let me back up. So, as a writer of books, I often go on tour. And since I write with two of my best friends, we often go on tour together. During these tours, we tend to have three priorities: brainstorming for our next book, knitting, and … knitting some more.
We also do what we can to entertain ourselves, because the road can be long and weary. On one particular tour, in the Big Apple (a name coined by John J. FitzGerald, and not because it’s shaped like an apple), we stopped by a boutique shop and bought three stuffed unicorns. Or, to be more accurate, we “adopted” them, because that was the wording on the packaging. “Adopt a unicorn and feel the magic.” And being storytellers of the fictional variety, we have an affinity for unicorns and other creatures that do exist, but stay hidden from the general public (like the Sasquatch, the snipe and Richard Simmons). We were ready to accept these new members into our family, because the drive to the bookstore was long, and it was either that or knit our 50th pair of fingerless mitts.
We named the unicorns after knitting terms. Because the idea that writers are nerds is clichéd, but accurate. My unicorn was named “TinkorKnit Janiecorn.” “Tink” is a term for undoing something. It’s the backward spelling of “knit.” The more you know. *cue rainbow graphic*
The other two were named Purl Ann Janiecorn and finally Double Point Janiecorn.
Our publisher hired us a car and driver for the journey, and once he found out we were authors, he started in on how he had an amazing idea for a script and could we please look at it because we should pass it on to our agents, because we are New York Times best-selling authors, and we are the key to his success. That was slightly paraphrased.
This is not a new phenomenon. Many people think authors are rich, powerful and successful, all three of which apply only to a rare few.
We tried our best to shut down the pitch, because there really was nothing we could do for him. We ignored him. We admitted we had no influence over anything. We acted impressed and wished him the best.
But he didn’t stop. He rebuffed our … rebuff.
So, we did what any good authors would do. We pretended our stuffed unicorns were real.
Yep, we talked to them as if they were real babies, and we had just made like Angelina Jolie or Madonna and taken all the babies home.
“Aw, are you hungry? Do you need a bottle?”
“Do you need your nappies changed?”
“Who’s a good girl? You’re a good girl!”
Maybe one of us mentioned that we were lactating. I’m not saying we did. But I’m saying I did.
The driver stopped pitching his screenplay.
The next driver had an idea for a book/screenplay, too. We decided to employ the same practice. We treated our unicorns as if they were real children.
But this time, the driver played along. He said: “Aww, what cute babies.”
“Adopting unicorns is one of the most magnanimous gestures.”
“They’re so cute. Are they speaking yet?”
Which prompted us to say, “You know, they are just stuffed animals, right? They are not real babies.”
He stopped pitching us his “slam dunk” book ideas.
We didn’t get a five-star rating. But we did come away with a successful strategy to exit any conversation. Maybe next time we’ll figure out something that doesn’t involve us making baby talk to stuffed animals. Until then, long live baby unicorns.
Brodi Ashton is a New York Times best-selling author who lives in the Salt Lake City area. She’s also an Uber and Lyft driver who shares stories from the road in this occasional column.