Friday, September 09, 2005

"Once Upon a Crime" is in the basement of a redbrick building on West 26th Street, Minneapolis. There was a poster advertising my talk, and five people waiting to hear me.

I got a really warm welcome from Gary Shulze and Pat Frovarp, who run the store. They apologised for the small turnout. There had been a big bash the previous night, when the Minnesota Crime Wave (these guys are haunting me!) launched their compilation of Minnesotan crime stories called "The Silence of the Loons". Most of the store's faithfuls had been out for that one.

Of course we'd always known that the date for my talk - midweek, and following in the wake of a big event - was not the best. But it was the only one I was able to make. In the event it turned out well. Some more people arrived. My hosts in Minnesota, the Carr family, had come with me. And so I talked to around twelve or fourteen people, which is always more intimate. I relaxed and felt like I was telling stories to friends.

Everyone bought books, some of them more than one, and there was a great big pile of pre-orders waiting for me to sign. Pat and Gary told me they had already sold a huge number of books - they had been available in the shop for a month, even although the official publication date was September 2 - and that they anticipated selling a lot more.

They were enormously supportive, and ve-ery enthusiastic about the book.

So it was a gentle, but very encouraging start to the tour.

Earlier, I had flown into the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul to be met by the first rain of the trip. I could see through the cloud the thousands of lakes below me, like so many jagged silver plinters, as we came into land. This was the heart of the Midwest. I was into virgin territory for me.

I was met at the aiport by Elizabeth Jensen Carr, the daughter of John and Bettie Jensen, my former neighbours and old friends from the 13th century stone village in southwest France where I used to have a house. She and her husband Tom, and daughter Sophie, were to be my hosts for my one-day stopover.

They were great. Elizabeth made me a French salad lunch, with St. Nectaire cheese which she had bought specially to make me feel at home. We went to pick up Sophie - my youngest and most ardent fan at (almost) fifteen - from school, and went on a tour of the beautiful lakes that so characterise this city. Fabulous houses, dot manicured lawns under the shade of the beautifully mature trees that line the shores of these interlinked waterways.

We had coffee in Minneapolis' very own version of Starbucks - Caribou Coffee. Ghrhrhmmmmhhhh (Homer again). Then on to the gig.

Now it's on to Boulder and Denver - five thousand feet up into the Rockies. It's a shame I don't have more time to stop and take in the places I'm visiting. It all seems to be passing in a blur.


Me with Sophie

Me with Pat and Gary of "Once Upon A Crime"

1 comment:

Janice said...

The final day of the writing course. So I survived. I missed your input, but maybe in a way the group didn't miss it. It was our first all female group and that had a marked effect on the conversations around their dinner table in the evenings. Where other groups would talk about their writing - this group seemed to do an awful lot of talking about men! They got on very well, and are already planning a reunion - I think, a Puymule retreat in the gite with the swimming pool!

But they wrote, too, and that's the main thing. Even the lady who announced on arrival: "I'm not here to write - I just came to watch." By the end of the week you couldn't stop her! Ah well...

It's the farewell dinner tonight and then I leave for Paris tomorrow morning. Of course there's a fete in Bretenoux tomorrow - how often is there a fete in Bretenoux or Betaille or Vayrac, just when we are trying to get to the station to catch a train??!

So don't worry, I'll leave in plenty of time!

Ne vous inquietez pas, Ariane et Gilbert, je serais la! On a hate de vous voir!

And I can't wait to see you too, Peter. Is this the longest that we've ever been separated?

Although, you know, I can't pretend that it's been too difficult here. Ian and Hilary have been absolutely wonderful. They've driven me up and down to the Hotel Victor Hugo, of course.... but also, every evening they've cooked a wonderful meal for me, and cleared up everything afterwards!

So - tomorrow I'll be travelling to Paris, then Sunday morning up early to get the flight to meet you in Houston. Check your E-mail Peter, for the details about our welcome at Houston. You'll be met first, then come and meet me.

I hope you find me!! See you then!