Last night I went over to the “Partners & Crime” bookstore here in Greenwich Village to hear my friend Lawrence Block, the multiply-honored mystery and crime novelist, read from his new novel—A Drop of the Hard Stuff–and then take questions from the fans who had come to hear him.

It’s what you do for friends now and then (not that Larry needs that kind of support), and I hadn’t done it for awhile, and he couldn’t have made it easier, appearing in a venue that was only a five-minute walk away for me on a pleasant summer night.

So here he is last night reading:

Lawrence Block Reading 4

 

 What he read was a good, tight, short setup for the story, with some humor, some foreboding, and fast engagement with the principle characters.  The audience loved it.

And then in the Q&A that followed Larry showed himself once again to be not only the fine writer he is but also the fine raconteur and entertainer he is too.

An answer he gave someone toward the end of the evening got me to thinking about  something he’d said to me many years ago—20 and maybe even 25 now.  It was one of the most useful things I’ve ever heard about money.  I was earnestly going over with him and asking his counsel on setting a price for some undertaking which I don’t even remember now: either a new book I was writing, a speaking engagement, or an editing or ghostwriting job.

He nodded as he listened.  And then he said to me:

“Well, what you want to do is set a price high enough so that if they accept it, you won’t end up resenting having to do the work.”

A casual—and to him, organic—piece of wisdom that has served me well for about a quarter of a century.

(When I’ve remembered it.)

What brought the memory back was when someone toward the close of the event last night asked Larry how he had ended up writing an Introduction for a DC Comics graphic novel a number of years ago, which isn’t the kind of thing he usually does.

Larry paused a moment, looking up and off to the side, apparently trying to remember this.  Then looked back down and smiled.

“They offered me money,”  he said brightly.

And without a hint of resentment.