“Meet us at 8:30 on Saturday morning, we’re going to Wizard World!” That was the message I received on Thursday, March 21, 2013 from my big-hearted mom and dad.
Dean Cain was going to be there and I thought it would be impossible to go. More than anything I wanted to meet him and thank him personally for being look and heritage inspiration for the character Mack. Without Dean being on my mind, so long ago I would have never created the storyline for Beneath the Wall. As many of you know, I originally thought of what life would be like for the interracial child of Kim and Chris at the end of Miss Saigon. That was the trigger, but as I wondered what kind of story I could pull from it, another one came to mind. This one involved the handsome Superman actor, Dean Cain and his own Japanese-American background. My mind stepped back in time to World War II and thought, hmm what if an American sailor met a Japanese woman and they had a child (that looked like Dean)? What if as an adult, he was sent to fight in Vietnam? What hardships would he go through being purely American but resembled the men they were fighting against? Would his compatriots accept him? If so, who could he turn to when the digs and prejudice got too much? Ahh someone else who could relate to him being an outsider… a woman in a Marine camp. Bingo! Beneath the Wall was born.
Fast forward to this yesterday. My sweet-hearted friend Shawn wrote me saying, she, too, was going to Wizard World in St. Louis, Missouri and when I thought I couldn’t go, she’d bought a copy of Beneath the Wall to give to Dean Cain for me. I was so touched that she was going to make that dream of gifting the man who inspired my creation, come true. I was even more grateful when I said I could make it, that she was willing to let me give it to him.
At noon, the time had finally come. My mother and I were through the gated area of the convention and Dean was just feet away, but Shawn was no where to be found. My mouth was dry, pores were sweating (Dean was right in front of me) and yet the biggest piece of the puzzle was missing – Shawn and my book. I paced, texted and finally decided that maybe she’d be in the discussion panel where Dean and actor, John Shea (he played Lex Luthor to Dean’s Superman) would be. No such luck, but the panel was awesome! I was still SO close, but SO far away from making this new dream come true.
I had met Dean before – twice – once in New York City
when I was all of 20 years old and then again in California at 21. I had spoken to him on the phone and Twitter last year… all had been wonderful but so fleeting in moment that I never had a chance to tell him about anything important. I tried, of course, but with no such luck. This time was going to be different – I just knew it, but the longer I couldn’t find my friend, the more I fretted.
The day was dwindling to a close and I knew I couldn’t leave without at least getting a typical fan picture with him. And I had brought another little present for his son, a personalized set of dog tags from Camp Lincoln here in town. I got in line, Dean right in front of me and there, to his right was a copy of Beneath the Wall. I gasped and he looked at me. I smiled and said, “You have my book!”
He glanced at the paperback and with widened eyes said, “You’re Eryn? Oh Wow! Shawn dropped it by earlier, she said you’d be here. This is awesome!”
I squealed and let the few people in front of me get their pictures. Then it was my turn. I stood where the photograph of the two of us would be taken and Dean walked over to me with open arms saying, “Eryn…” as if we were two old buddies meeting after a long absence. Those arms wrapped around me and mine around him. We laughed, he leaned his head on mine, squeezed and the picture was taken. (I’m beaming now, just reliving the moment)
Next, I was brought down to the autograph area where I could have some one on one time. Dean sat and said, “Now tell me about this book. I read the back, it looks amazing.” I then proceeded to tell him everything I mentioned above about it and how he was involved. Dean just kept saying, “Wow, oh Wow,” all throughout and then with a hand to his heart said, “I’m truly honored. I’ll be reading this on the flight home. I can’t wait.”
I have met a lot of people involved with my book, from local veterans, who I give the utmost honor and respect to in helping me understand what to write for my characters to the men and women still enlisted in the Marine Corp, keeping our country safe today…But meeting Dean and giving him my book was the complete icing on the cake, the cherry on top of the sundae, the diamond in my crown… He’s a fellow writer, a patriot and respects the military men and women as much as I do. If I do nothing else with Beneath the Wall, I’ll be a happy girl.
In the end, after Dean’s handler came over and tried (yes tried) to chastise Dean for spending too much time with me (to which Dean said, “let her finish,” and I finished the conversation I was having with him before the guy so rudely interrupted), he leaned over the table and said, “Come here,” and gave me an unprompted hug and K I S S! I, of course hugged and kissed him back, we said goodbye and I grabbed my paparazzi-mother on the other side of the roped off area, unable to breathe or think. My dream had come full circle and for that moment in time, all was right in the world.
p.s. when Dean was signing my autograph, his hand slipped and he wrote on me! I was marked!