Monday, September 05, 2005

Well, here I am, back in the bosom of the family. Rochester, New York. Chicago left behind. One adventure over, a short pause before the next begins. On Wednesday the tour starts in earnest.

When I arrived I called La Patronne, to be assailed by news of the writing course back in France. Our house sitters, Ian and Hilary, have arrived and are looking after her in my absence. When I phoned she had just finished a fine meal of roast beef and Yorkshire pud, with "the best roast potatoes you have ever tasted" - courtesty of chef de cuisine, Ian. There also, it seems, had been a fair amount of wine consumed.

And all while I was dragging bags off and on trains and across airport concourses, eating the most disgusting pulled pork mush in a soggy roll, and being stripped almost naked at airport security.

I was left wearing only the kilt itself and my shirt. Everything else had to be removed - belt, sporran, shoes, watch, bracelet, jacket. Then they made me stand in a glass booth on full public view while they poked electronic gizmos up my kilt and waggled them around my private parts. Like I was really going to secrete a bomb up there!

Earlier, I had left Bouchercon with a sense that things had gone well. One of the booksellers in the book hall, Heirloom Bookstore, had e-mailed Janice to ask that if I was still in the hotel on Sunday morning would I seek them out and sign their copies of my book.

It turns out that one of the best known booksellers in the hall - Mystery Mike - had sold out of "The Firemaker", as had several others, and Steven Lee of Heirloom was advised that there was a run on them. One of his best customers had spoken to him about me the day before - the first he had heard of me (an indication of just how effective publishers are at promotion!) He immediately scrambled to get hold of copies and try to track down UK editions of the other books. He said they were like gold dust - everyone had been snapping them up.

I signed his books and promised to try to drop in on him when we're en route from Pitsburgh to New York.

In the lobby I was grabbed by Janet Rudolph, who was keen to make herself known to me. She is the editor of one of the best-known online mystery magazines. I am writing an article on China for her next edition.

She knew me immediately. The kilt again. It really has worked a treat. I arrived at Bouchercon a virtual unknown. When I left, I doubt if there was a single person there who didn't know who I was.

And again I owe a debt of thanks to George Easter of "Deadly Pleasures". It seems that while I was doing my panel on Friday, he was on a panel of magazine editors talking about their favourite authors. George cited me and the China books, and recommended everyone there to get a copy of "The Firemaker". And he told them that they wouldn't be able to miss me at the conference - I was the guy in the kilt.

Then when I got to Rochester, I picked up an e-mail forwarded to me by La Patronne - the publicity blurb put out by the bookstore in Minneapolis, Once Upon a Crime. Its owners - Pat and Gary - are real movers and shakers in the world of mystery books in the States. Here is what they said about "The Firemaker":

- May is meticulous in his research which is evident in this extraordinary novel. Gary and Pat agree that The Firemaker  is absolutely one of the finest books to come out in a long time. -

Which is a fantastic endorsement for the book. I just hope it is as well received elsewhere. Maybe I'll be able to gauge what readers think when I do my first gig of the tour, which just happens to be at Once Upon a Crime on Wednesday night.

Meantime, I have a couple of days respite here with brother-in-law John and niece Suzanne, before the maelstrom begins.

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