Â Â with Luanne Rice in NYC
It was fun and it was frustrating.Â In short, a typical book tour.Â Â
On October 11, I joined a panel of six authors at the San Antonio Express-NewsÂ Book & Author LuncheonÂ and was astonished toÂ find out how HUGE an event itÂ is.Â 1200 (!) attendees sat down in a hotel banquet room to hear writers talk about books.Â The event is such aÂ hot event that ticketsÂ don’t even go on sale to the publicÂ –Â because reservations are snapped up a year in advance, and there are no tickets left to sell!Â Joining me on the panel were Tyler Florence, Sarah Bird, Marie Arana, Denise Brennan-Nelson, and Tim Derk.Â Â Alert to all authors: if you ever get invited to this event — do it!
Â InÂ NYC, I had the pleasure of sitting on a a different panel, this time with Nora Roberts, Walter Mosley, Jed Rubenfeld, and Sam RobertsÂ at the New York Times Great Tea in the Park.Â Beforehand, the authors got a chance to chat in the cocktail lounge (and drink champagne if we were so inclined) and I was once again blown away by Nora’s amazing energy.Â I’d met herÂ and her husband several years before in Toronto, andÂ even though she’s a mega-selling icon of 160(!) novels, she is one of the most fun,Â down-to-earth people you’d ever hope to meet.Â Â Walter Mosley, as always, was natty and charming.Â And it was great meeting Jed Rubenfeld, whoseÂ historical mystery, THE INTERPRETATION OF MURDER, hit the extended New York Times bestseller list — quite an achievement for a debut author.Â
Â I also got to spend some time with authorÂ Luanne Rice (photo above) as we strolled the streets of NYC together.Â It was a gorgeous day, and Luanne’s such a good storyteller, sheÂ could keep me entertained forever.
After NY, it was on to Myrtle Beach and theÂ South Carolina Writers Workshop, where I got the chance to mingle with a lively and enthusiastic group of writers.Â IÂ was delighted to spend time with Ted Tally, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of “Silence of the Lambs”.Â Â
Â Â with Ted Tally at dinner
The prospect ofÂ meeting Ted was more than a little intimidating, I have to admit — after all, I’m a mere novelist.Â But Ted turned out to beÂ funny and sweet — and brilliant, too.Â We sat on a panel with film veteran Kathie Fong Yoneda and discussedÂ the uses of conflict in story telling.Â All I could do was nod at everything Ted said — because he always said it better than I ever could.
AtÂ the Poisoned Pen in Phoenix, I shared a program with Robert Liparulo, a fine young writer whom I first met at Thrillerfest back in July.Â Then it was on to Los Angeles, and a signing at Borders in Torrance, CA.Â And there I was so happy to see theÂ familiar faces of fellow thriller writers.Â That’s the really great part aboutÂ the thrillerÂ genre — the nicest people write these scary books.Â Robert Gregory Browne, Brett Battles, and Vladimir Lange all came to say hello andÂ offer support.
The Sacramento Bee Book Club evening came next, another niceÂ event, with close to 200 people attending.Â Again, if you’re a writer and you ever get invited to do this one,Â accept!
Finally, it was on to San Francisco.Â IÂ visited M is for Mystery in San MateoÂ for a stock signing, and thenÂ had a nice evening at Bay Book and Tobacco in Half Moon Bay.Â Which is a town so beautiful I’d definitely think about moving there –Â if I ever have to leave Maine.
Those were the highlights.Â
ButÂ there were also the constant reminders of just how tough a business novel-writing is.Â A number of the small independent stores I dropped in on didn’t carry MEPHISTO CLUB — or any of my backlist.Â Nor did they seem inclined to ever carry my books.Â Their shelves were stocked instead with literary titles andÂ trade paperbacks.Â It reminded me of my earlierÂ daysÂ trying to find respect asÂ a romance author.Â Thriller writers face the same challenges.Â
And yes, there were the usual incidents that reminded me of my place in the publishing world.Â Bookstore clerks whoÂ said: “What’s your name again?”Â “I don’t know if we carry your books.”Â “Do you write fiction or non-fiction?”Â
But theÂ incident that stands out happened on my trip home, on the very last day of tour.Â I was happy to find a stack of MEPHISTO CLUB in an airport bookstore, and the clerk gave me permission to sign them.Â As I was autographing the copies, aÂ customer came up to me.
“Are you theÂ author?” he asked.
“Why yes,” I said, hopingÂ he’d be impressed and might even want to buy a book.
“Hey honey!” the man calls out to his wife.Â “This lady wrote a book and she’s signing them.”
By this point, I was already openingÂ a copy to the title page, ready toÂ inscribe a personal note to myÂ brand new reader.
Then he added: “Maybe these signed books will be worth something someday.Â If she ever gets famous.”Â And he laughed and walked away.
So that was the coda to myÂ book tour.Â One lastÂ reminder from the universe that the first lessonÂ one learns as a novelist is humility.Â Â