Saturday, 2 July 2011

The North American Tour - Part 1

I'm just back from my first ever book tour! I'd hoped to blog while 'on the road' - and had even taken my computer to do so - but sadly it was not to be. I've been warned that being on a tour is a little like being in a surreal bubble, but hadn't really understood what that meant. I even intended to write while I was out there, thinking working might keep me grounded, but that also was not to be. I've been going from hotel to bookstore to event to hotel to plane, and around that I've tried to fit in doing my laundry and also seeing something of the wonderful cities I've been staying in. Even when I've had a moment it's felt as though my head has just not been in the right place for anything at all creative. I'll try and recall some highlights, though.

Toronto

I've always wanted to go to Canada. I have family there, and know a few people who are from or have lived there. So I was particularly excited to be kicking off the promotion of Before I Go to Sleep in that city. After a long flight (during which I watched the film of 'Never Let Me Go' and was mightily impressed) it was straight into a lunch and interview with the National Post (read the results here). I even liked the photo of me they managed to take  - you'd never guess I was just off a plane from Heathrow (would you?). An hour or so to explore the city before a long dinner with the HarperCollins team, many of whom I'd been contacting on Twitter and all of whom were wonderful and engaging company. The following day I did my event a the Harbourfront - my first public reading! I think it went okay - I had some wonderful support and advice from my fellow speakers - Andrew Pyper and Robert Rotenberg and friends and family were in the audience. Then it was time to leave Toronto...






Houston

I didn't know anything about Houston. What I discovered on landing is that it is vast. Huge. And there is literally NO way of getting round it without transport. It's hot, too, so I spent my time there scurrying from one air conditioned place to another. I saw a lot of the city (from the inside of a car, admittedly) during an afternoon of stock signing, and still can't get over how big it is. My event, held at Murder by the Book, was well attended, though, and the audience were engaging and asked interesting questions. Such a great shop, too, with amazingly friendly and welcoming staff. I always love the passion I see in people that work in bookstores (I was going to write 'independent bookstores' there, but I saw it in those working in the chains as well) - it's fantastic to spend time with people that really care about books.

From Houston it was on to...

New Orleans

Unlike Houston, I did have an idea of what New Orleans was like. I wasn't prepared for the heat, but visually it did match up to my expectations pretty well. I'd been instructed to head straight to Cafe du Monde for beignets, so that's what I did, and I wasn't disappointed, though I think I prefer UK doughnuts and/or the deep fried churro's one gets in Spain. Beignets seemed to be a kind of cross between the two.

I really enjoyed my event at the American Library Association conference. The conference centre was vast (so big that it had been used to house families made homeless by hurricane Katrina) - so big in fact that I 'popped' to the restroom before my event and almost got totally lost. I was on a panel discussing Mystery and Horror in the library. I spoke a little about how the book came to be written, and some of the ideas behind it, and I think people were interested (though am rather ashamed to admit I ran over time  by a factor of about 100 per cent - I have no watch at the moment so just wasn't aware of how long I'd been speaking). It was really nice to meet some of the people who'd enjoyed the book afterwards as well, or just heard of it, and in particular I met one really nice woman who confessed that she was my first 'super fan' and asked, ever so politely, if she could have her photo taken with me. That was very nice, though I hope the photo came out well (I so rarely like photos of myself...).

From there it was down to a signing at the HarperCollins stand and I met a whole load more people, all of whom were charming (well, most, but let's not spoil things by dwelling on rude people) and off to another signing in a bookstore (less well attended, but I understand that every author on tour has to have at least one event with only a handful of attendees). A wonderful meal in Mister B's followed and then the next day it was on to Florida, which I'll save for part 2...

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