When Lunch Become More Than Ordering Off the Menu

Pat Henshaw

Sometimes a lunch turns into more than a meal. Take the lunch I had a few years ago with Scott Coatsworth and Christopher Koehler. It was an author’s lunch of sorts, a get-together of three people who shared a general location, a genre and a publisher. 

Scott and I met oddly enough in Orlando, Florida, at an author’s retreat. I say oddly because we were both from Sacramento, both writing for the same publisher, and both writing gay fiction. At the time, Scott was writing contemporary stories with dollops of magical realism in them as well as a weekly blog piece entitled River City Chronicles. (Think Maupin’s Tales of the City set in Sacto.) He had mapped out and started writing his two SF opus series, Liminal Sky and Oberon Cycle. On paper, we had nothing in common.

Christopher who lives in Davis, California, next door to Sacto was writing a YA series about a group of rowers for the fictional Capital City Rowing Club. A rower himself for the real River City Rowing Club, Christopher’s insight into the drama of this highly competitive sport and the lives of the sexually active young participants had piqued my interest but I don’t think we’d met before we sat down for lunch. On paper, again, we had nothing in common.

I was writing my Foothills Pride series which was dedicated to the gay men leaving the Bay Area when prices went sky high and moving into the Sierra Nevada foothills towns, many of which are left over from Gold Rush days. In my books, a city man meets a town resident and they fall in love, beginning with the bartender at the local saloon and a barista who wants to buy an historic building to set up a coffee shop. No magical realism or SF like Scott, no YA or athletes like Christopher. 

But as I said before, we all wrote for the same publisher, live within a few miles of each other, and authored gay fiction.

I don’t remember much about the lunch other than I had a lot of fun chatting with both of them and eating a great meal at Tower Café, home of the iconic drugstore that started Tower Records. We did talk about how there seemed to be quite a few LGBTQ authors and writers in the area, people we’d met at conferences and workshops and people whom we knew through their work and author bios.

I’m not sure which of us came up with the idea of getting together again for lunch and maybe asking a few more people to join us. Or if anyone suggested creating a group of area writers. But someone, probably Scott because organizing is his superpower, did.

In other words, you wouldn’t be getting this newsletter or be reading this column if it hadn’t been for that lunch and the work of Scott in actualizing this group out of casual conversation.

When someone asks you if you know how this group came about, you can now tell them that you do. Whether the story you tell them is this one or not—you are all creators and storytellers, after all—at least you’ll know the truth.

We are here because of lunch.

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