Sunday, September 04, 2005

A quiet one today. Went early, kiltless, for my now customary breakfast machiato at Starbucks. A guy out jogging stopped beside me at the traffic lights and said, "Are you at Bouchercon?" When I told him I was he said, "You're the guy with the kilt, right? I just didn't want to come up to some guy in the street and say, You wear a kilt, in case it wasn't you." Good thinking, I told him. "It's a great idea," he said. "There's no-one at that conference who doesn't know who you are. I write novels that take place in Hawaii. I thought about wearing something from the islands. Thing is, no-one would remember the bozo with the necklace. But everyone remembers the guy with the kilt."

I thought then that maybe the kilt wasn't such a bad idea.

I returned to go to a couple of panels, and talked to a writer who was setting a book in and around Dumfries and wanted to quiz me on police structure and practice in Scotland.

I also got a chance for a longer chat with my editor's assistant, Toni Plummer. Turns out she's a California girl, and loves working for Ruth Cavin in New York.

The most interesting panel was the Minnesota Crime Wave. They're just four writers from Minnesota who do their book tours together - spreading the load of organisating them (La Patronne would appreciate that), as well as the costs, and providing company for each other on the road. It also makes it easier to sell appearances to bookstores, since the stores effectively get four for the price of one.

One nice feature of their panel is that they all dress up like crooks. Carl Brookings was done up like a gangster, and William Kent Krueger was dressed in convict's stripes, with handcuffs dangling from his wrist.

It's a brilliant idea and seems to work well for them. They've gone so far as to make themselves into a legal partnership, and have just produced a book of stories by Minnesotan writers. When they went to register themselves with the tax authority they were asked if they seriously wanted to call themselves the Minnesota Crime Wave. They said, why not? We're not planning to evade our taxes. We just murder people!

It occurred to me that I should get together with Jim Nisbet and we could tour together as "The French Connection"! And although it wasn't an altogether serious thought, the moral and performance support of touring with the same group of writers is very appealing (particularly after yesterday's panel experience).

The major interesting fact to emerge from it all was that publishers simply don't do book tours for writers any more - even best-sellers like William Kent Krueger. If you want to promote your work you've got to go out there and do it yourself - and pay for it yourself (which is a bit rich, considering it's the publishers who benefit most).

I managed to grab Kent for a brief chat just before lunch to thank him for his cover endorsement of my book. I had gone earlier to get him to sign my copy of his book at the signing after his panel, but the queue was out of the door, so I'm waiting till Scottsdale where, he suggested, we all go and eat together after the gig.

I met up with George Easter, editor of Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine in the lobby at twelve, along with one of his reviewers, Larry Gandle.


That's Larry Gandle on the left and George Easter on the right.

We went to one of Chicago's famous deep pan pizza joints, where we guzzled cheese and tomato pizza and beer, and set the world to rights (or should that be "writes"?). Good guys, both. And I owe George a great deal - he has supported the China books faithfully and vociferously from the start.

He gave me a souvenir hardcopy of a magazine edition that carried a piece about me in a special about forensic fiction.

Thanks, George, for everything.

An interesting addendum. As I left the hotel to go and eat, I was purloined by a lady called Willetta L. Heising. Willetta is producing the definitive guide to English-language crime fiction, and is including all my books in it. She was at yesterday's panel. She said to me, "I love the kilt. You should have seen... but, then, it was all happening behind you. When you walked through the lobby, everyone turned to look at you. It brought a kind of film star glamour to writing. I mean, most people have only ever seen Mel Gibson and Sean Connery in a kilt. It's great promotion."

Which, of course, is what we'd hoped for.

And so tomorrow, it's bags packed and on the road again. To Rochester, New York, to spend a couple of days with my brother-in-law - actually, I prefer to describe John the way the French would, as my beau frère.

I'm looking forward to a couple of days of relaxation and laundries.

2 comments:

Free iPods said...
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ARGIL said...

Quel succès !! Heureusement que nous avons le privilège d'avoir déjà fait ta connaissance. Tu vas devenir inaccessible.