Sam was nervous. She felt the perspiration, though the hotel’s stupid air conditioning had ceased functioning, and that may have also contributed. Soon she’d be interviewing Ted Dragonovich. Over time fandom had shortened his last name in admiration. While openly she might not admit it, there’d been many pleasant moments spent during her college years closely examining the pictures gracing his dust jackets.
She knew he had shaved his mustache after writing the second volume of Apthor’s Ruins, and that he had a goatee when Apthor’s Rebirth began.
Sam had almost fainted when her neanderthal editor assigned her the story. Unfortunately, she realized the one reason he’d done so—she was already pre-registered at the convention. The cheapskate bastard would do almost anything to avoid comps.
She was waiting in Hospitality for Dragon’s autograph session to conclude. Ted drank heavily at conventions he attended. This was a major reason behind his popularity as Guest at fan-run cons. Provide him with alcohol, and he’d show for close to nothing.
Dragon entered the hotel suite, grabbed a glass bottle buried underneath the cooler’s icy surface, and sat at Sam’s table.
“Please tell me you’re the feature writer.”
“That’s correct.” She stared at Dragon. Something seemed strange. Wrong. However, he looked like his pictures.
“Wonderful. Must admit I’d expected some dreadfully boring journalist who hadn’t even read anything I’d written. “
“How do you know for sure that’s not...”
“The badge you’re wearing.”
“Number thirty four. You must’ve pre-reg’d early.“
Sam smiled. Several minutes later they were deeply involved in conversation with her tape recorder running. “Any suggestions for younger writers?” she asked.
“Sometimes, I find setting restrictive challenges on content can inspire creativity.”
“Ahhh, anything in particular?”
“I write homoliterals.”
“What’s a homoliteral?”
“Where neighboring words share at least one letter.”
“Isn’t this difficult?”
“Theoretically homoliterals are like...the Weight Watchers program.”
“No words are forbidden, but preparation is necessary for some choices.”
Dragon revealed several chapters he’d published were perfect homoliterals. While he refused when she requested specifics, she was sure she’d find enough examples before deadline. She was about to stop the interview when Dragon floored her with, “What are your dinner plans?”
“Nothing planned,” Sam said, unsure where this was leading.
“Would you enjoy some lobster?”
“Room Four-Three-Five-Eight. At two past seven,” Dragon said, quoting an early novel’s title.
She stared uncomprehending.
“We’ll order room service.”
“Please, the name’s Ted.”
“Two past seven?”
“Yes,” Ted smiled.
“Sure,” Sam said after hesitating briefly. Her favorite author proposed joining him in his hotel room for dinner—Yes, seemed like the right answer.
Her one regret—she’d have her cheapskate boss to thank on Monday.