During that week in 2000 getting to know Rob Wilder at the Natalie Goldberg writing workshop, Rob championed a number of other writers. One was Tom Perrotta. I picked up Bad Haircut, which was great. Then Joe College, which I also loved. A couple of months later, John was asked to moderate a panel at the Nantucket Film Festival. Tom was on the panel since his novel Election was the basis for the Alexander Payne (director) /Reese Witherspoon film. "Election was adapted from a novel?" I asked. Hardly the words any novelist wants to hear. But somehow, he and his wife Mary and John and I all hit it off. We started spending time together off and on, in real time and email, here and there, in tiny bits and pieces.
Surprisingly, they'd never been to Austin. Last November, in the thick of the Little Children (novel and screenplay adaptation by Tom) release, I asked if he'd have a new novel out in the fall. I was sure the (really excellent) Texas Book Festival would be interested, and that he'd be a shoo-in for their annual collaboration with the Austin Film Festival, held just prior. The Austin Film Festival specializes in screenwriting and screenwriters. As luck would have it, he was almost done with The Abstinence Teacher, and the release date was fall 2007. I called Clay Smith, the literary programmer at the Texas Book Festival. He took it from there.
Clay asked John, author and indie film guy, to introduce Tom. Then Clay recalled I'd mentioned Rob was a friend and asked me to introduce him. It was delightful to think about seeing these two in Austin for the Festival. I knew that they were friends, but it was only after seeing Rob in person again, for the first time since 2001, that I remembered he'd been my introduction to Tom in the first place.