Home! And an event today

Ah, it’s good to be back! The leaves started changing in my absence, and it’s nice and cool (compared with LA!). My son and dog are glad to see me – can’t speak for the frog or ‘mander – and my husband managed to leave Japan before the typhoon hit. All’s well.

Can’t quite relax yet, though! This afternoon at 2pm, I am appearing in the Authors Tent at Word on the Street, an annual celebration of books and literacy. The Authors Tent is on Homer, across from the library. If you’re available, come one down!

Last day of US tour

I’ll be at the Santa Monica Barnes & Noble tonight at 7pm!

And then tomorrow I go home. I’m ready to be home, friends, although in some ways it feels like this tour has zipped by at lightspeed. It’s been exciting and exhausting, together.

Thanks again to all the wonderful bookstores, schools, libraries, author escorts, the good folks at Random House, and above all the amazing READERS who listened so attentively and came out to see me in five cities. Y’all were great, and I appreciate your time and enthusiasm.

And hey, Vancouver: I’m coming for you! I will be reading at Word on the Street on Sunday! The US tour may be finished, but I have a several Canadian events coming up in October, in Calgary and at home. I’ll keep you posted as they become finalized.


In San Francisco, they kept me hopping

Hi, all! I know it’s been a few days since I checked in, but I was so busy in San Francisco that I really didn’t have time to sit down and post very much. I gave talks at two lovely schools in Petaluma, and then had a pizza party at Copperfield’s Books on the first day. I want to give a big shout-out to all my new friends in Mr. K’s class, who drove all the way down from Santa Rosa just to eat pizza and ask awesomely intelligent questions!

Then the next day I gave talks in two more schools, Crocker and North Shoreview, and ate excellent Mexican food with some new friends from Books Inc. I signed stock at Booksmith and also at Alexander Book Co, where a very special Seraphina fan had baked me some cookies (delicious!). After that, we were off to Barnes & Noble El Cerrito for a store event. We had a good crowd there, who also asked some wonderful questions.

My flight to LA got me in rather late (well, late for me; I am old). I was up at 6am, after (not quite) enough sleep, and then off to Adams Middle School for two presentations. These were extra special: I got to meet fellow YA author Wendy Delsol, and we conversed about our books, our inspirations, our convoluted roads to publication, and whatever else the kids asked about. It made a welcome change from the speech I’ve been giving for the last two weeks, and it’s always great to learn about someone else’s experiences.

Tonight: I’m appearing with Wendy Delsol at Mysterious Galaxy, Redondo Beach, at 7:30. Tomorrow: Barnes & Noble, Santa Monica, 7:00 pm.

Sunny Sunday in Seattle

I only have one event today, and no travel, so I slept in until (almost) eight. Yes, that counts as sleeping in for me.

I can walk to Pike Place Market from my hotel, so that’s what I did for breakfast. I had never been there before, but was eager to see it. I love public markets. I know they get a little touristy, but I don’t care. I love the pyramids of produce, the crush of the crowd (something I’m not fond of in other contexts, but it somehow seems right in this one), the inevitable buskers and hustlers. This market reminded me more of the one in Philly than the one at Granville Island in Vancouver; they’ve kept the old hand-painted and neon signs, many of which are eccentric and inadvertently humourous. There’s a big sign proclaiming Sanitary Public Market, for example, and that you could get Sanitary Water, Milk, and Produce. Of course that’s what one wants, but for some reason it made me giggle.

There were several very good street musicians, in fact, particularly the fiddle player (near the big bronze pig) and the banjo hipster (near Starbucks). There was a dude who had brought his own piano, and was banging away ferociously. I ended up giving my change to a lonely guy at the far end of the market, though, who was playing guitar and singing Jethro Tull’s “Farm on the Freeway”. There was a certain pathos to him.

But you see, this always happens: now I’m thinking about markets, and wondering whether any part of my opus-in-progress could have more market action to it. I’ve been to many markets – in Greece and Mexico, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, boot sales in England – and there’s something so vibrant and vital about them. It’s a very human place, the agora. I wonder whether I could adequately capture the essence of it in words.

Good morning, sunshine

Chicagoland, you were wonderful. I spoke at four Naperville middle schools and was so moved and awed by the kids’ enthusiasm. They asked wonderful questions. At one school they lined the hallway with pictures of dragons in my honour. I was really touched.

Events at Warren-Newport library, Anderson’s Book Shop, and B&N Old Orchard went beautifully and were excellent good fun. Thank you, thank you, to all the librarians and bookstore staff who made these happen. I felt so very welcomed, and again, it was so lovely to meet people who’d read and enjoyed the book.

Today, I fly to Seattle! Tonight’s event is at 6pm, at the Seattle Public Library, Northeast Branch. Dragons welcome!

Greetings from the road!

Hello darlings! I’m on tour. Please do check the “Appearances” tab, above, to see where I’m going to pop up next! (hint: Chicagoland!)

I hit the ground running yesterday, starting with two school talks. To my new friends at Haverford High School and Radnor Middle School, thank you so much for having me. You were wonderful listeners, and asked good questions. And I do believe I glimpsed some future writers out there in the audience. It takes one to know one; I recognized that look. I look forward to reading your books someday.

Then last night I did an appearance at Children’s Book World in Haverford, PA, the store where I used to work. In fact, I was working there when I first began writing Seraphina. I formed a small writing group with some friends, and the first chapters of the first draft were written for that group.

It was so nice to be able to start the tour among dear old friends. The wonderful ladies at CBW know how to throw a good party, so while it stormed outside (did it ever!) we ate cake and gathered around for a question-and-answer session and book signing. A million thanks again to Hannah, Heather, Sara, Ann, and all the gang there!

That was a single-day stop. I’m in the Chicago area for the next three days before moving on to Seattle.

My interview with Nancy Pearl

Here it is! (I couldn’t get it to embed, sorry.)

I just want to say: thank you so much to Nancy Pearl, Paul, Deanna, the lovely folks at University Book Store, and everybody else who helped make this happen (Trinity, Robert, Konrad, Paige, Flann! You helped!). I had so much fun, I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to keep chatting. Maybe we’ll chat again sometime!

More thoughts on the blues

So my father-in-law, who is a big fan of the blues, apparently read my confused gibbering on the subject a few weeks ago and decided to help me out by getting me a nice introductory book. Thanks, Mike!

I’m enjoying it so far; I love reading about music, and the early bluesmen and -women were a colourful crew. The one fly in the ointment, as you can probably guess – and as I discovered while writing Seraphina – is that words can only approach music obliquely. I still needed to hear it for myself.

So I went to YouTube and poked around, starting with Robert Johnson and proceeding in a haphazard manner through Blind Lemon Jefferson and Leadbelly and I can’t even remember who. I can’t remember because none of it was sticking with me, alas. This is usually the case with me and new (to me) music: it slides right off my Teflon brain.

Then all of a sudden I hit one that made some kind of sense to me: Robert Petway’s Catfish Blues. Go listen. I’ll wait.

Now listen in close succession: Rolling Stone by Muddy Waters, which was supposedly inspired by Catfish Blues. I can hear it, but it’s subtle

OK, you’ve got those? Well then, ta-daa! The piece de resistance: Voodoo Child by Jimi Hendrix. Don’t quite hear the lineage? Go back and listen to that Petway again.

Aha! I say. AHA! I have successfully connected dots in my brain.

So what was different in “Catfish Blues” that let me connect with it where I was having trouble with the earlier stuff? I have to say it was the livelier guitar line. (My husband was making fun of me just a little bit because I was like, “Oh, this one’s kind of jolly!”  There’s a reason it’s called The Blues, he claims, and I suppose he has a point.)

That said, my favourite of the Robert Johnson songs – “Kind Hearted Woman Blues” – had some pretty impressive guitar. Maybe that’s a way in. Tune in, uh, next time to find out!

Just to bring this to your attention

The first stop on my US tour is just a week away! I have updated my “Appearances” tab with all the latest information (although there may still be details and corrections to come).

I will be visiting Philly, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, in that order. If you live nearby, please do come on out and see me!


Viking metal!

We had a grand time last night at the Viking Metal concert. Here’s the band we specifically went to see, the Faroese group Tyr, playing my favourite of their songs:

We also really enjoyed the band that played first, Metsatöll. They had a guy who played Baltic bagpipes, baybeh, as well as two different kinds of Estonian zyther, one of them (the moldpill, if I’m not mistaken) played with a bow. I was in obscure-instrument heaven! Now I want to find a way for someone to play a moldpill in the sequel, because I’m like that!

Anyway, a good time was had by all!