When I speak of “International Mystery,” I’m not referring to MHz’s excellent line-up of detective shows featuring Montalbano, Van Veeteren, Wallander and Maigret. What’s more, this post completely ignores those case-cracking inspectors, Morse, Lewis, and Lynley, who hang out over at BBC Television.
Instead, I am using the word international to refer to the list of countries from which my websites have been accessed. In alphabetical order, they include:
- Russian Federation
- United Kingdom
- United States
Getting To Know A Fellow Book Lover
The mystery part of the equation is my curiosity about those people in faraway lands who have, accidentally or not, visited my sites. A part of me wishes I could greet them at the portal, shake hands, and take the time to learn more about them. Hmm:
Me: “Excuse me, please, but would you mind answering a few questions?”
World Citizen: “That depends.”
World Citizen: “Whether or not I like what I see on your websites. Step aside and let me find out.”
Me: “Oh. Well, all of that is still a work in progress…self-publishing and all. Maybe I could ask you a few questions before you go any further.”
World Citizen: “That depends.”
World Citizen: “What you plan to do with the knowledge.”
Me: “I’m going to sell it to those Facebook people. Wait! Just kidding. Come back.”
World Citizen: “You’d better be kidding. I don’t want my private thoughts and information being scattered onto the web — and into eternity — by you or anyone else.”
Me: “Right. Do you own a computer?”
World Citizen: “Obviously.”
Me: “Then it’s too late. You’re on the radar of the everlasting data compilation bots.”
World Citizen: “Is that stuff legal?”
Me: “Dunno. But it doesn’t matter since scientists are on the cusp of developing computer technology that will read thoughts. Just wait until someone figures out how to smack a tax on those gems. Anyway, imagine trying to fight with your husband or wife while he or she is holding one of those mind reader devices.”
World Citizen: “I’d rather not. Listen, I need to get moving. This is the internet, after all, and you’ve managed to burn through my attention span, currently measured in Planck units.”
Me: “I thought the smallest measure of time was the nanosecond?”
World Citizen: “You’re really old school, aren’t you?”
World Citizen: “Tell you what. As soon as those scientists make it possible for others to read your thoughts, send me your link and I’ll send you answers.”
Me: “How about I just beam them over to you. Remember? Like they used to do on Star Search?”
World Citizen: “Star Trek. Your condition is worse than I thought.”
Me: “My condition?”
World Citizen: “Eighties fever. Once you get it, it’s with you forever. Never goes away.”
Me: “Ohmygod, that is, like, so rad, man. Like, totally!”
World Citizen: “Don’t overdo it. And quit matching your socks to the color of your shirt. Gotta roll.”
Me: “Later, dude.”
How To Start Conversation With A Not-Quite Stranger
In all seriousness, if I thought I could solve this international mystery by making a questionnaire the first stop on my website, I would do it.
And what would I ask the people who stop by? For starters:
- Tea or coffee?
- Which fiction genres do you read?
- As a child, who nurtured your love of reading?
- Do you have a dream of someday writing a book? Or have you already written one>
- What factors help you decide whether or not to purchase a book?
- In your opinion, what is the best book-to-screen adaptation? Why?
I must say that even if this mystery never gets solved, it’s pretty exciting, anyway.