Friday, March 07, 2008


Wolves, cakes, a long line of fans, and a snail-mail letter that winged its way across the Atlantic to intercept me in Denver.

Oh, and a taxi driver who had no idea where he was going - as well as a GPS sytem which was itching to swear at him (even more loudly than me)!

That was today.

Well, that was part of today. A day in this week that never stops or ends.

I have to tell you, I'm flagging. My eyes sting, my muscles ache, the air is so thin up here in Mile High City that I get breathless walking along the corridor.

But I'm not complaining, even if it sounds like I am. It was a good day that started when I drew the curtains in Charles and Marilyn's Denver condo to reveal the clearest of blue skies, and a city ringed by snow-capped mountains. Early morning sun slanted in through floor to ceiling windows and lifted my spirits.

There followed a brisk walk through sub-zero sunshine to the nearest Starbucks, a 40-minute workout in the fitness room in the basement of the condo. Then lunch with Charles and Marilyn in a cool Vietnamese restaurant called Parallel 17. Best curry I've had for a long time.

Then it was off to register at the Left Coast Crime convention in the Adam's Mark hotel in downtown Denver and get my bearings for my two panels.

This afternoon's panel was entitled: "Mind Games and Manhunts - Psychological Thrillers", and around 60 people turned up to hear myself, Laura Benedict, Christine Jorgensen, and Robert Greer, under the guidance of moderator, Carol Caverly, discuss what makes a psychological thriller.

Now, the form is that when a panel is over, the panelists adjourn to the book room where tables are lined up around the perimeter. Fans buy books and come and get the authors to sign them. I have sat at these events in the past, twiddling my thumbs while some better known author next to me had a long line of readers queuing up across the room.

For once, I was the writer with the long line of readers waiting to get their books signed. One lady said to me, "I've been seeing your name everywhere. I've just got to read your books."

I wonder if that makes me an overnight success at 56?

I was then faced with a hair-raising chase across town to the Murder by the Book bookstore (I know - same name as the one in Houston), for another event.

That was when I encountered the taxi driver who had no idea where he was taking us. I should have known there was trouble ahead when I gave him the address of the bookstore and he said, "Where's that?" Like I would know?

Against my better judgment, La Patronne and I slipped into the back seat and waited patiently while the driver tapped the address into his GPS system. I have to tell you, his girl (whatever she might be called) didn't do nearly as good a job as Betty would. Mind you, it would have helped had he followed her instructions. The plaintive phrase, "recalculating route", became an oft repeated refrain as he missed turn after turn and I watched our ETA get later and later.

Half an hour and 25 dollars later, we finally arrived at the bookstore (just 15 minutes late), where I was doing an informal presentation with two other writers - Louise Ure and Sandi Ault (who arrived complete with cowboy hat and fringed leathers). A small, but lively group squeezed into the store, and we had a fun hour of stories and questions and amusing exchanges.

Bookstore owner, Lauri Ver Schure, had as usual commissioned a cake decorated in sugar with the covers of our three books. And as we drank wine and ate cake, Sandi revealed that she had brought her pet wolf with her. He was out in the truck, and wouldn't come into the shop, but since everyone was curious to see him, she brought him to the door.

I have never seen a wolf in the flesh, and could never have imagined how huge one might be. This one was a sleek silver grey, nearly 200 pounds, and as big as a small pony. Sandi's husband had him on a leash, and he stood patiently on the step in the dark while everyone crowded around to pet him.

A footnote to the Murder by the Book event. As I sat listening to the other writers, I noticed on a clip on the desk in front of me a letter addressed to me care of the store. The address was hand-written, and the stamp and postmark were British. Here was another mystery. Who was writing to me from the UK, c/o of a bookstore in Denver?

It turned out to be from my old boss, former head of drama at Scottish Television, Robert Love. Robert has steadfastly refused to embrace the technology of the computer, and at the time of posting had worked out from my tour schedule just where I might be when his letter arrived. His timing was perfect. The letter turned up in Denver the day before I did!

But it was time to go, to get something to eat, and to get the head on the pillow to prepare for a fresh day tomorrow. Two events: a cocktail party hosted by my New York publisher, St, Martin's Press, followed by an open house at the Alliance Francaise.

To sleep, perchance to dream, and to dare to believe that the finish line of this marathon tour is somewhere just beyond the horizon.


Laura said...

Congrats on the long line, Peter--It was well deserved. Plus, you were the most entertaining member of our little panel. I didn't even mind twiddling my thumbs a bit! Laura

Carol and Chris said...

Sounds like a good event Dad and congratulations on having the longest line!!

Say hi to Charles and Marilyn for me

C x