Continuing from my last post…
After the excitement of the previous evening, I had the following morning to myself. I stayed in my room, grudgingly allowing the real world to intrude for a bit as I did some legal work and answered non-book-related emails.
Later on, I went out and explored downtown a little more, and went on a small expedition through those overhead tunnels I had spotted the previous day. I ate lunch at a restaurant near the hotel which was full of men in suits with very loud voices. I looked a little out of place in my rather unkempt get-up (I was going for the tousled author look, you see.) I had, as usual, taken a book with me for company, and I enjoyed a quiet hour with it, my food, and a pint of very respectable local ale.
I arrived at the trade show about an hour before the mass-author-signing session, where I was due to sit down and sign galleys of A GOOD AMERICAN. I had been hoping to see piles of my book at the Penguin stand, but to my disappointment, there were none. At least, I was disappointed until Joe Cain, the local area rep, explained that they had all been snapped up by show attendees by noon that day. It looks as if the Amy Einhorn magic was at work again – people had apparently been swarming around the table, eager to grab a copy. The buzz, Joe assured me happily, was beginning.
I grinned rather stupidly at this, and gave myself a little pinch.
For the next hour or so I wandered around the show, meeting lots of booksellers and chatting with the Penguin representatives there. At 4.30 I sat at my allotted table in the hall next to where the trade show was taking place. The venue used to be an old railroad station, and has been beautifully restored. On the table in front of me were stacks and stacks of galleys of my book. It’s a delicious, but slightly vertiginous, feeling, the first time you see your book amassed in any kind of meaningful quantity. (Up until that point the most I had seen at any one time was five.) As I sat down at the table, the first people arrived and I began signing, smiling, and chatting to the friendly folks who lined up to talk to me. Many people were good enough to tell me that they’d heard good things about the novel on the floor of the trade show that morning. By the end of my allotted half hour my hand was sore, and my signature had morphed into some Frankenstein version of its usual self.
At the table next to me, author Peter Geye was signing copies of his debut novel, Safe From the Sea – which, not entirely coincidentally, happened to be the book I had been reading that lunchtime. It is a wonderful book, deeply touching and beautifully written (and highly recommended – it’s just come out in paperback.) I was excited to learn that Peter would be sitting next to me – he is published by one of my favorite presses, Unbridled Books, an outfit that only seems to publish brilliant books.
After the show Peter and I sat down and enjoyed a couple of beers together. We swapped publishing stories and compared notes. Writing can be a lonely business and it’s always helpful to exchange stories with others who have gone through the same thing. And, I must confess, I always get a little star-struck when I meet writers I really admire. (It helps when they are warm and funny, too.)
The following morning I flew back to Kansas City and picked up the children on my way back from the airport. It had been a brief but exciting trip, and thoroughly good fun. I hope I’ll be able to return to Minneapolis soon.