Eight states‚Ä¶nine cities‚Ä¶five libraries…ten days‚Ä¶what an Amazing Tour!
Boy, was it nice to touch down in Atlanta, even though I was met by three angry and dismissive cats, as well as 90+ degree heat, which, oddly enough, was cooler than what I’d suffered through the week before.
Have I told y’all how much I love my hometown? The amazing culture, the music scene, the great restaurants, the bars, the diversity, the wonderful folks you see smiling in the street, the southern hospitality, the beautiful old houses with their European influences melded into old plantation style, the museums, ballet, opera, theatre, and don’t forget that Atlanta, with the largest urban forest in the country, is as green as a leprechaun’s doodle.
It was very good to be home again, though my work was not yet done. Instead of sleeping until noon my first morning back, I had to get up for a couple of phone interviews. The first, the Martha Zoller Show on WXKT, was at 8:30 in the morning, which doesn’t seem too early unless you are still on Arizona time, which means it was actually 5:30 in the morning. The show was great, and Martha talks to a mostly rural area in North Georgia, so she was more than familiar with the devastation that has hit rural libraries. We talked about that for a good long while, and I could hear that she shared my outrage and concern. I gathered this was a right-leaning station, so made sure to point out that this is not a Democrat or Republican cause. This is an American cause. Martha herself echoed that fact‚ she said that libraries are open to anybody, so everybody should get behind them.
My next conversation was with Richard Neer, who does a great show called A Touch of Grey. I have done this show before, and Richard is always well-prepared and interested in what authors have to say. It was nice having a conversation with him about the book, and we talked a bit about libraries, but then because of technical difficulties had to cut it a bit short. They’re going to piece stuff together and I think the interview will be fine, and except for me blabbing it here, no one will be able to tell the difference.
Next up, I went to Eagle Eye Books, where I signed more books for folks who had placed orders while I was touring. It was neat to see the addresses far and wide‚ fans from England, Australia, and various other points were eager to have signed books. I also got a nice drawing of me that one of my readers sent. It’s really cool to see that some of my readers are such talented folks.
I went home and got back into my pajamas (my usual attire‚ boy, I cannot tell y’all how sick and tired I was of wearing shoes by then) and ate a nice turkey sandwich with some chips and fizzy water to wash it all down. I also had some of those chocolates left in my suitcase that the Las Vegas library made for me and nommed them. I can’t say that I miss room service, though it’s weird seeing a roll of toilet paper that hasn’t been neatly folded into a point. (Note to self: teach cats how to fold toilet paper rather than rip it to shreds.) And why is it that I come back home and my bed isn’t made? WAAHHH!!! I MISS HOTELS!!!
After lunch, I was pretty much wiped out. You know how it is when you’ve got a job to do, and you do it happily, but then when you get home and you have some time to reflect, you basically just pass out from exhaustion? That was me all over. I took a three-hour nap and woke very refreshed, which was good because I had one more scheduled event on my tour.
Normally, I start my tour off at the Barnes and Noble at the Forum in Norcross (which is just north of Atlanta). This time, I ended it with them, and I was very happy to do so because they kindly agreed do a benefit for the Gwinnett County Library system.
I felt kind of bad for Gwinnett, because my library fundraiser I held in DeKalb County in March was on the same night as their fundraiser, and I’m sure they missed some press because of it. My friend Lisa Gardner was in Gwinnett that night, too, which made me sad because I love Lisa and I didn’t get to see her and show her around town, what with scrambling around trying to do my own fundraiser. So, I felt really good that we could make this work for the Gwinnett system, and Barnes and Noble was kind enough to donate part of the sale price of each of my books to the library. And not just that‚ they gave out coupons where anybody who used the code could buy any book(s) and have part of that book’s price go to the library system as well. I noticed a lot of people decided to do their Christmas shopping and bought multiple books. Talk about your win/win!
The event went really smoothly. There’s a writer’s group at the Forum B&N that’s been coming to my signings for years, and it was very nice to see them. I felt kind of bad because there weren’t enough chairs for everybody who came, and a lot of people had to stand in the back. Also, I’d forgotten that the event was going to be taped for the local cable access network, and I felt really, really bad that I hadn’t bothered to comb my hair after my nap. Which I said on TV, so if anyone watches that, please know what I said was really heartfelt. Especially because my dad will probably see it.
I was actually reminded of the first time I got recognized as an author. This was several years ago. It was from one of those cable access shows that they loop endlessly for days, so people think of you as a Shamwalla. Anyway, I was painting a room in my house and ran out of paint, so had to run up to the hardware store to get more. I was basically dressed like a hobo. A painter hobo. And this man comes up to me and says, Didn’t I just see you on TV? And I had this deer in the headlights feeling and just nodded and said something that didn’t even make sense and called for lots of stuttering, but in my mind I was thinking, AM I ONLY GOING TO GET RECOGNIZED WHEN I LOOK LIKE A HOMELESS PERSON? which, the answer to is yes, because that has basically been my experience ever since.
After I did my little dog and pony show, and talked a bit about Fallen and a bit about the libraries and how they all need help, and how a great first step might be to tell our politicians that they should take a pay cut and pay more for their medical coverage like the rest of us and maybe send that extra dough to the library (which got a good laugh, let me tell you) I signed a LOT of books. My philosophy is that people who come to see me should be able to see me and have their picture taken and whatever else they like so long as it’s legal and we all keep our clothes on, but people had to wait a good long while because of this. I’m not sure if there’s an answer on how to make things go faster, but I hope that people understand and didn’t mind waiting. One couple even managed to slip out and get dinner in between, which I thought was smart, and kind of rude because I was hungry, too.
The library folks put a nice folder together for me to show all the advertising they did and the articles that the Atlanta Journal had done in support of the event. I will drop this in the mail to my publicists, because they like seeing this sort of thing and it’ll make them very happy to send someone out the next time Gwinnett asks. I did a fundraiser at the Gwinnett system a while back and they have beautiful facilities and some of the best trustees and supporters around, which is why they aren’t in as bad shape as some (though, in this drastic economy, that’s like saying they’re on the part of the Titanic that only got a little wet). I talked a bit to the writer’s group before departing, which I always try to do. This is a great group of people, only I was pretty exhausted after speaking, so I was glad they understood that I needed to skeedaddle.
And thus was the end of my tour, and thus is my last blog for you, dear reader.
Thanks so much to Library Journal who, perhaps in support of Banned Books week, did not edit down one part of my massive ramblings. Thanks also to my readers who came out to support me, and hopefully learned a lot about their local library system and found new ways to help them. I’m really grateful to my publisher, Random House, for their support of my cause to help libraries, and I’m extremely grateful to the folks I met at the branches I visited, because they did so much to ensure a good turn-out and show my publisher that libraries are capable of putting on great events for authors. A large component of Save the Libraries is to make sure it’s repeatable‚ we want to make sure that every library in every state is given the tools to throw their own fundraiser and ask publishers to send authors to help. It’s a sort of teach a man to fish strategy that I think is going to be useful for long-term sustainability.
The thing is‚ we need libraries. We need to be a country of learned people. We need to celebrate our education and our culture. We need to understand our past so that our future can be better. We need to honor the institutions that hold our history. It’s come up again and again as I’ve been doing research for my next book, Criminal. Where can I find a copy of The 1976 Handbook on Modern Policing in Georgia? Where can I find information on Georgia mental hospitals in the 1970s? Where can I find a 1975 dissertation on Atlanta police women? Where can I find the archives that trace the genesis of the Civil Rights movement in Atlanta?
The Fulton County Public Library. The Georgia College Library. The Bowling Green State University Library. The Auburn Avenue Research Library.
The Library. The Library. The Library.
I know that times are tough, but please understand that we need y’all as much as you need us. I have said it before and I’ll keep saying it to anyone who will listen: the library is the beating heart of every community. The library is the backbone of our educational infrastructure. It is vital to our national security that we have libraries open to everyone, no matter their economic means. We will never fully recover from this recession without the libraries. We will never retain our national sovereignty if we do not have an educated and inquisitive populace. And, on a more personal note, the library made it possible for kids like me to grow up into an adult who gets to travel around the country promoting my books.
I promise you that I will do everything I can to not just get authors on board Save the Libraries, but to make sure they all know how to steer the ship. We owe you more than our thanks. We owe you our lives.
Your intrepid author,