Greetings from Scottsdale, Arizona!
I’m at one of my favorite hotels in the world — The Valley Ho. This is where Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood got married way back when and they’ve decorated it pretty much the way it was when the couple sealed their vows. There are a few updates, like I am guessing there weren’t big bathtubs in the middle of the rooms back then, or bolster pillows that look like a hairball a clown’s cat might throw up. I have to say, what tickles me most are the limitless funnies associated with staying here. Like, when folks ask where I’m staying, I get to say, “The Ho!”
My day started at 7am, which was really bad because I got in around midnight the night before. I drank a big bottle of hotel water (H2-Ho) to hydrate myself because it was already ONE HUNDRED TEN DEGREES when I got up. That is a mother of a temperature, let me tell you. I had an egg white omelet with sun dried tomatoes and broccoli, which was kind of weird, and some tasty toast. To bathe or not to bathe? I think you know the answer to that question. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice that my morning interview was for TV. As in, where people can see you. Oh, well. Something for my biographer.
I walked toward the Ho lobby, where I paused on the balcony to take a nice snapshot of the pool area. I met Evelyn, my author escort, in the motor court and she drove me to the studio. As y’all might have guessed, having a good escort is a critical component of successful touring and a good one who knows what they are doing can make everything go so much easier, so I was very glad to have Evelyn with me because she’s a real pro. Actually, I haven’t had a bad escort this trip. Even Miss T was charming in her own way. I feel like I’ve been very lucky. And it was so hard not to make Ho jokes with Evelyn, because she is quite an elegant lady.
We arrived at KAZT-TV on time, but I got a little freaked because when we pulled up, there was a skinny black crow on the wall in front of us with its mouth opened. Maybe I’ve read too much Poe (yes, I know it was a raven; work with me here) but this felt portentous. Which I told Evelyn, who said, “This is what I get from riding around with mystery authors,“ which totally made me think the bad juju was on her (and it was, because later, we almost got hit by another car driven by a crazy man who wasn’t looking where he was going and I said, “look out,” and she did, so basically my good juju cancelled her bad juju) We went inside and I was interviewed on the Pat McMahon Show by the man himself. This guy was a really good interviewer, and you could tell he loves what he’s doing. He also is a long-time library lover, and told the story of how, when he was a kid, his parents were traveling actors and he was always in a new town every other week and the one place he could go to where it always felt like home was the library. I thought that was just a beautiful story, and it got me to thinking about how when I was a kid the library felt like home to me, too.
Nostalgia properly waxed, Pat and I moved onto how folks can help libraries (Phoenix has seem some drastic cutbacks) and we talked about Fallen and my event later that evening at the Poisoned Pen.
The Poisoned Pen is a great mystery bookstore in Scottsdale, and it’s my only non-library-related tour stop this trip. The woman who runs the store, Barbara Peters, is absolutely amazing and knows a lot about the mystery/thriller community. She’s basically someone you want to just sit with and talk with for hours, which I have done on occasion because I have known her over a decade now (which, how come I look older but she still looks the same?) Also, I should mention Barbara’s husband Rob, who is a prince among men. I’ve known him just as long as Barbara, and he’s one of those men you meet and you just think, “I love you.” He’s just a really sweet man. And the first time I had lunch with them, he ordered a twenty ounce steak, so you know he’s a manly man, too.
But, meeting Barbara and Rob was for later and for now I was back at the Ho, where I tucked into bed and took a quick nap. I made myself get up after an hour because I could’ve slept all day, but I didn’t want to be a lazy Ho. I was too tired to read, so I watched some TV shows on my iPad (Suits: looks promising. Falling Stars: Battlestar Galactica on earth, but still good. In Plain Sight: Mary’s pregnancy is growing on me) and then I went to the restaurant for lunch. I sat in a cool, circular booth and had an Arnold Palmer (not the same as in New Orleans — too much lemonade, not enough tea) and a turkey club sandwich with Ho-made potato chips. It was yum, but there was a lot of it. I really wish I hadn’t eaten it all, but it was so good! Then, I went back to my room and took a short nap to sleep it off, then I had a phone interview with a guy in Auburn, California, who I talked to for about twenty minutes about libraries and how we need to do what we can do to save them. Then, I napped a bit more and then my phone rang and it was my publisher, Libby, calling to tell me that Fallen had gone in at number nine on the NY Times bestseller list.
I had kind of been nervous all day because I knew that I would find out about the bestseller list in the afternoon. Being honest, I wasn’t so confident as I sound now back during the time of that black crow incident and the good vs. bad juju exchange. I was sure that mother had jinxed me. Y’all have been following me through all of this, so you know how a tour can be moments of pure joy followed by moments of pure exhaustion, but then when you get a call like this one, it makes it all joy, all the time. Also in the back of my mind all morning was that I was in Scottsdale the first time I ever got that Big News phone call, way back when my first book, Blindsighted, hit the NY Times list its first week in paperback. So, I think that Arizona is very, very good for me. I even took a picture of myself (with romantic uplighting from my iPad and my Ho-tel room behind me) to capture the moment. This is a big step because I totally hate every single picture ever taken of me since I before I was born. I’m serious — my fetal ultrasound looks like a lima bean with its hands covering its face. (Lima beans lose their hands after they are born.)
Giddy, I called my daddy and talked to my agent and emailed my publicist and everyone else I’ve ever met in my life and then I realized I was hungry and it was supper time. I was rushed for time, so… thanks for the room service, Random House! I ordered the chopped salad with bacon dressing, which wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, and some chicken noodle soup. They also brought me some warm dinner rolls and melted butter, which I felt would be rude not to nom so I basically did everything but lick the butter tub.
Okay, I licked the butter tub. I was celebrating, all right?!?!
I took a quick shower, then met Evelyn downstairs again, and she drove me to the Poisoned Pen. Now, this year, I did something different: I chose two stores that were set up online so that readers could order signed books. I figured between Eagle Eye Books in Decatur, Georgia and Barbara’s store in Scottsdale, I could satisfy readers on both the east and west coast, and also readers around the world who were (relatively) close to one or the other, because — as any reference librarian can tell you — the world is round. I’d already told my Facebook peeps and other folks about ordering books through my newsletter, so there were over 100 books in the back room that I needed to sign before the event started. (Folks who ordered them — they are going to ship out as soon as possible, so hold tight! Folks who ordered at Eagle Eye — I will sign them Friday and they’ll go out ASAP) It was nice seeing fans from Canada and Switzerland and Australia and all other points who had ordered books. I also enjoyed reading some of the requested inscriptions. One reader from Oz wanted me to write notes scattered through the pages of book that she’d find when she’s reading it, and I couldn’t think of what to say so I just wrote things that my sister and I used to say to each other all the time, like I would say, “Guess what?” and she would say, “What?” and I would say, “Chicken butt!” and we would laugh and laugh. I do that with my agent sometimes and she always falls for it. I hope they have chicken butts in Australia. Do you know why? Chicken thigh! Hahahahaha!
Then, we started the event. Barbara and I had a nice conversation that was recorded for a webcast. We got into some heavy stuff, which I hope doesn’t throw people off because (1) Barbara and I were both tired and (2) we know each other so well that we basically talk to each other like friends rather than like we’re interviewer and interviewee, which you think is pretty cool until you hear it and you realize that you’re not that interesting when you’re talking about world events and women’s rights and stuff. I hope folks weren’t too bored! We managed to talk about Fallen, at least, and I got in some good details about Criminal, which is out next year.
There was also a librarian in the room, and I don’t want to go all Mentalist on you but I thought from the beginning that she might be a librarian or maybe a teacher because she was taking notes, and why else would you do that if you weren’t a librarian or a teacher? During the question period, she asked me about Save the Libraries, and I was glad to talk about it because, as I said, Phoenix has been hit really hard. I told folks to support their local branch, and to support their librarians because they’ve stood up for us for a long time and it’s time we stood up for them.
After the event, I signed lots more books for the folks who were there (and signed more stock for folks who want to order signed copies). All in all, I got to meet a lot of very nice people. It’s always great to be in a mystery bookstore because most readers have all of your books — which is a lot for me by now, eleven total. So, basically, I’ve got some readers out there with really strong arms. Barbara asked me if I wanted to go grab a drink, but the best thing about Barbara, other than she’s a great friend, and her husband is dreamy and capable of eating a lot of meat, is that she knows that authors are tired and want to sleep all the time, and she knew I had to come back and write my blog for you guys, so she kindly gave me a rain check.
Evelyn dropped me back at the Ho, where I was pleased to see all my shipping tags from Luggage Forward had arrived. Suitcase, if you are reading this, here is where we part company. I am having you shipped under separate cover so that I do not have to look at your stupid blue face and your draggy rubber wheels as I make my way through the airport tomorrow. Nor am I willing to wait an hour for you to drop your lazy butt on a belt at the Atlanta airport so that I can go home. I’ll see you next week, is what I’m saying. Maybe you will take the opportunity to reflect on how heavy you have been, or maybe you will not. Either way, enjoy traveling on your own. I hope your liquids don’t explode.
And back to you, readers: I’ve got one more event left on my tour: on Friday night, I will be at the Norcross, Georgia Barnes and Noble at the Forum, which is co-hosting the event along with the Gwinnett County Library Foundation. That will be my last tour report entry. I will send all the riveting details from my humble abode in Atlanta, where the heat is wet and the cats are basically annoyed that I’m messing with their routine.
Until then, I wish you good evening from the Ho.
Your intrepid autHOr,