Apparently, Harlan Coben isn’t the only one who uses a coffee shop as his office. Novelist William Kent Krueger calls the St. Clair Boiler his office and wrote a loving tribute to it in the Washington Examiner (which I discovered on David J. Montgomery’s blog).
It’s 6:30 in the morning. I’m sitting in my car, eyeing the dark
windows of the St. Clair Broiler across the street. There’s almost no
traffic. The sidewalks are empty. A peach glow in the east suggests
that the sun will rise within the hour.
Deep in the Broiler, a
light comes on. It’s located in the kitchen where Juan is firing up the
griddle. A minute later, the red neon flame over the front door
flickers to life. Inside the cafe, there’s movement. Karen – or Lis,
or Sydney, or Carol, depending on the day – flips the main light switch
and unlocks the door. I grab my notebook and pen and head to my office
– booth No. 4.
It’s been this way for twenty years. I write
mysteries for a living, and I write them at the St. Clair Broiler in
St. Paul, Minn.
If he’s on the road, he still finds a coffee shop booth to write in.
I don’t make it to booth No. 4 every day anymore. I’m frequently on
tour or attending conferences. But I don’t desert the process. Wherever
I am – Los Angeles, New York City or Omaha – every morning, I find
myself a little coffee shop, take out my wire-bound notebook and pen,
and bend to the magic.
What he doesn’t say is what kind of deal he’s worked out with the coffee shop owner (or, I should say, what kind of deal he worked out before he was a published novelist). Don’t these coffee shop owners ever get ticked off that authors are occupying a booth all day… a booth that could be turned over perhaps a dozen times for pay customers?
One of these days, I’ll have to share the story of what happened when I was brought in by a movie studio to adapt his terrific novel IRON LAKE as M.O.W/back-door pilot. It’s a true Hollywood story…or, I guess he might consider it more of a Hollywood nightmare. At least this was one nightmare that, so far anyway, hasn’t come true.