If Carl Webers younger self had gotten his way, hed be selling thousands of Quarter Pounders to the masses rather than books.
The bestselling author of such books as Preachers Son and The Man In 3B told more than 60 of his fans at Barnes & Noble on Sunday that writing was the last thing on his mind when he was growing up -- he wanted to be wealthy instead. His father had equated having lots of money with owning a McDonalds franchise, so Weber figured that by owning five of them, hed be five times as wealthy.
I set a goal to be wealthy at 35 years old, he told the crowd, most of whom were there to get their books signed and meet the popular author.
Instead, after working as an accountant, he got into the book trade by opening a Jamaica, N.Y., bookstore thats one of the most successful bookstores in the country that tailors to black writers and customers.
Once, while hosting a book-signing at his own store, he took a well-known writer he was hosting to dinner and saw the writers brand-new Mercedes. Since Weber was unimpressed with the writers work despite his fame, Weber told the crowd he began writing that night.
Since becoming a writer in 1999, Weber has turned out 18 books, including Preachers Son, which made it onto The New York Times Bestseller list.
Getting that phone call, thats like winning the 100-yard dash at the Olympics and standing on the winners podium, he told the crowd.
Weber entertained the crowd with his very animated and humorous speaking style for more than an hour before answering questions from the audience and signing books. He said his book signings differed from other authors since he elects not to read passages of his own works to an audience.
Youre going to read the book, so what do you need me for? he told the audience at the beginning, getting a roomful of laughs and setting the tone for the rest of his talk.
Weber said that many of his plots and characters come from people and situations he knows from real life.
When he wrote his second book. Married Men, the wife of his best friend read it and filed for divorce and called Weber to give a deposition about his friends infidelity.
Another book, Player Haters, came from arguments he and his brother had over the disposition of their mothers estate.
One of his most recent books, Family Business, is the first of a trilogy and is being adapted into a TV pilot thats set to shoot later this summer. Weber told the fans hes hoping that the series will be picked up by a network, and that some of his other books gain Hollywoods attention.
Weber said that trying to write, run his bookstore and run a publishing company he started can lead to a great deal of stress, which is often increased because of various stalkers and social media messages about him. At one point, he suffered a stroke from all of the stress,
Weber, a Waycross native, said hes appreciative of the support most of his fans have given him over the years, which is why he tries to go to cities such as Macon every few years.
Folks spend a lot of money on my books -- thats one guys life and career, he said. Thats why I try to go to these smaller outlets, for people who dont live in places like Atlanta or Savannah.
Tracie Brown, of Warner Robins, said she has been a fan of Webers for about 15 years. She said shes a fan because of Webers storylines and themes.
I can relate to the real-life relationships, she said. I have friends and things in my life like that.
Weber has a strong female fanbase that was evident Sunday, but some men did line up for autographs.
Luis Alejo, of Warner Robins, said hes never read Webers books, but his wife, Alexis, is a huge fan but out of town Sunday.
My wife has read all of them, he said, adding that he was getting an autographed book to give to her for her birthday next week. Its kind of crazy that hes here and shes not.
Weber never did buy a McDonalds franchise with the money hes earned from his books, but said he might buy one for one of his children someday if they want one.
Im hoping theyll be editors and working in the family business, though, he said.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.