That black and white face looming over those poor frightened paperbacks is Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite authors and famous English people, seen here peering out at the world from the back cover of his wonderful novel, American Gods. Well, that particular copy is mine because I paid for it, but he wrote it, so I guess it's really more his. That serious expression he's wearing caught me rather off-guard.
"Oh," I laughed, "hi Neil." And then he really surprised me.
Er? This is not the kind of interaction I'm used to having with a book, I thought.
"Oh!" I said. "Uh, I was just, uh, going to the bathroom."
"Yeah," I said. "Is that okay?"
"Well no, but I--"
"Okay, I get it. You've written a lot of books. I just need to pee, okay?"
"I just need to pee, Neil. I've been sitting here for over an hour."
"Oh that's enough out of you."
I got up and went to the bathroom, grumbling under my breath the whole time. I checked my email on my phone where he couldn't see me, got a cup of coffee, and looked in on the boys. When I sat back down at my desk, I had every intention of ignoring him, but I could feel those unblinking two-dimensional eyeballs of his looking at me. At least it's not Stephen King.
Unable to concentrate, I turned back to Neil.
"I do, actually. Thanks for asking."
And so I did.