Greetings from the air over Las Vegas!
I asked myself, “Where can I go where it’s hotter than New Orleans?” And the answer was simple: the desert. Everyone keeps saying it’s a dry heat, but you know what? IT’S STILL HOT. Lordy, I am wondering if I’m built for this anymore.
But, enough about the weather. I got into the Venetian hotel late last night, and I did not have to cry or complain‚ they upgraded me to a suite! Maybe my reputation preceded me or maybe the gods were smiling down or maybe I am just one lucky gal, but OH, THE MAJESTY. This suite was amazing. A wet bar. A living room. A table with chairs. A separate bedroom. A bathroom I could turn circles in (which I did) and a powder room, which means I had not one but two toilets, which meant that I had CHOICES about where to go. From the little box of truffles on the pillow to the two-ply toilet paper… it was amazing. And I even had my own doorbell, which, unfortunately, rang all too early at 8am the next morning. Now, I know y’all are thinking that’s not early, but it is when you go to bed at one in the morning (I did a lot of spinning around in that bathroom).
After eating my breakfast (scrambled eggs, toast and fruit) at my table like an actual human being, I went downstairs and met Suzanne, my librarian escort for the day. Suzanne is a great lady, and really fun to talk to, and she knows a lot about the library system, which was extremely handy because she was driving me to an interview where I was, funny enough, supposed to talk about the Las Vegas libraries. They of course have a large English as a Second Language group and she said that in Mexico, people have to pay directly to use their libraries, so one obstacle is convincing people here that they can take the books home with them. I thought that was pretty interesting and just goes to show that we are very lucky to have our free libraries here in America. Also, the LV libraries are funded partially from property taxes, so you can imagine what the foreclosure rate (one of the highest in the country) has done to their budgets, not to mention the governor tried to dip into their coffers but was stopped by a lawsuit. I thought that was pretty interesting because it just shows you AGAIN how short-sighted governments can be. If they don’t invest in kids now, they’re going to end up spending twice as much money on them in the future, whether through lost tax revenue or lost potential.
This is exactly what I talked about during my radio interview with Luis Hernandez at KNPRs “State of Nevada.” Luis comes from Florida, so he knows how important libraries are, especially to communities with large groups of seniors. He is also very well-read and, since we were there to talk about Fallen, too, he had some very good questions that made me have to think, which is always a nice surprise. He really knew his stuff, and when we found out that because of a power blip, we had to tape parts of the show again, I was pleased to keep the conversation going. Though, I felt the first run-through was my best take, but that’s how it goes. I had to read from the book twice‚ never my favorite part. I’m a self-conscious reader and I don’t think I do a very good job. There are some writers who read their work aloud and you just think, “wow!” That is not me.
After I finished the show, Suzanne drove me back to my hotel, and I picked up a piece of mushroom pizza and a cup of fruit in the food court, then headed up to my palatial two-toilet castle. I read the Newsweek cover story with Bill Clinton’s ideas for how to create job growth (hey, Bill, how about involving the libraries since every community has one!) and checked some emails and found out from my UK publisher, who just released the paperback of Broken last week, that after only three days of sales it went in straight at number four on the bestseller list. Hurray, Broken! Hurray, UK!
I really felt like I needed to celebrate, so it was a good thing that I had already booked a massage. Ho-lee, what a massage. The last time I was in Vegas I had what I call a pole massage, which isn’t what you’re thinking‚ it’s where the masseuse holds onto a pole mounted into the ceiling and uses his or her feet to massage you. Now, I know that sounds weird, but the last time I had it done the guy did something so exquisitely beautiful with his big toe that it took my breath away. Tina, the masseuse I had today, was equally as amazing in her own way. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned, but my back has basically been turning into the shape of a C from lugging around my suitcase (which I hate, by the way‚ the suitcase, I mean. I have seriously thought about just leaving it. I’m not kidding. We are NOT getting along.).
Tina managed to dig in her heels and get me back shippity shape. It was awesome. Her feet were like hands, only bigger and stronger and with stubby fingers so they were really more like feet. She was a true healer and got all the kinks out, though it did make me wonder what it would feel like if a monkey did it, because they basically have hands for feet. Obviously, this kind of thing takes a lot of school and training, so it would have to be one of the smarter monkeys (only, not chimps, because they would bite off your face, fingers and genitals) and they would have to shave their feet, otherwise it would be gross. Wouldn’t it be totally cool to say “I got a monkey massage!” I’m pretty sure this is how they got the idea for Planet of the Apes. During the massage, Tina asked me why I was in town and I told her I was speaking at the library to raise awareness because they’re in trouble and she said, “Yeah, they’re kind of irrelevant now,” and I felt every muscle in my body go zing like a piano wire and told her that, actually, more people were using the library these days and it was vital that folks have them, especially in Vegas because, guess what, if you want to apply to work in a casino, you have to do it online, and if you don’t have a computer, you don’t have a job. She did not know any of this and agreed that we need libraries.
My work at the Canyon Ranch spa was done.
After my massage, I sat in the salt grotto for a while, which is one of those weirdly calming rooms with negative ions and sparkly sky ceilings that hotel spas have to justify charging you eleventy billion dollars for a massage. (“Please enjoy the ethereal water baths for as long as you like, or until eight o’clock, whichever comes sooner!”) I couldn’t dawdle long because I had some more work to do. I went upstairs to do a phone interview in my room to promote my event in Norcross, Georgia on Friday night. Then, I took a nap, then a shower. I went downstairs to get dinner (a slice of mushroom pizza and Pellegrino to celebrate my number four in the UK) then I had to bid farewell to my suite, pack my stupid, hateful suitcase and head out to meet Suzanne for my evening event.
We entered the Clark County library just as it was closing up for the day (they’ve had to cut hours considerably because of the funding cuts). Suzanne showed me the stage and auditorium, which were very nice, and then gave me a quick tour of the rest of the facilities. The building felt kind of higgledy piggledy, but that was because we were in the staff-only areas. The public spaces were well laid out, and I met some of the staff, two of whom were big fans of my books and were very sweet and didn’t talk long because they said they were nervous to meet me (or maybe they just had work to do and didn’t want to waste time talking to me). The library had done a lot of promotion for the event and had a nice display of my stuff. I saw that my friend Tess Gerritsen is going to be there next week, so I took a picture and emailed it to her and said, “I warmed them up for you!” Haha. Tess and I have toured together. I love hearing her speak.
A very nice crowd of folks were there for my event. They listened to me talk a while, then had lots of questions that showed they had really read the books. After I finished answering them, Suzanne called out folks by numbers to come up and get their books signed, so it sounded like a bingo parlor for a while, which reminded me of a story my dad told me about my aunt Bert, who liked to call out the numbers at the bingo. Lots of people wanted pictures. I am hoping my hair looks better than I think it does. (Facebook is a cruel master.) There were many in the group who had heard about me on the NPR interview that ran that morning, and some who had seen the display in the library and prepared for my event by reading some of the books. One man was there because he read an interview I did in the LV newspaper the week before where I thought I kind of sounded like a jackass, but he really got what I was trying to say in the paper, which is basically that men shouldn’t be scared of reading female thriller writers. Tess Gerritsen, Lisa Gardner, Mo Hayder, Denise Mina, Alafair Burke, Gillian Flynn… there are so many women out there who are just writing darn good books that both men and women can enjoy. And I think that women writing so strongly in the genre has given men the inspiration to write much more complexly about the women in their stories. So, it was good he got that.
After the event, Suzanne gave me some really cool chocolates she’d made to give away that had the jacket of Fallen on them. I’ve saved some to give to folks at Poisoned Pen when I am there Wednesday night. We also ate some pecan crackers that a reader brought for me, and they were YUM. Salty and sweet‚ my favorite. Someone else also gave me a bookmark from California, which will be very handy to have. Readers showing up is gift enough, but it’s nice when they do something that shows they’ve been thinking about you.
Then, it was time to go. I thanked the booksellers, signed some stock, got in the car and headed for the airport, my effing suitcase in tow. I really am going to get rid of this thing. It is a scientific fact that the longer you carry something, the heavier it gets. Suitcase, if you are reading this, I am so over you. You are on my LAST nerve.
Looks like we are dipping in for a landing. That, or the pilot fell asleep. It’s dark out, but I know where I’m supposed to be. Hello, Scottsdale, Arizona!
Your intrepid author,