Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lost in Space

I am floating somewhere lost in space. Jetlag plus.

Monday morning, Paris, 6am, struggling through the cold and dark to drag our cases aboard a tram that would take us to the RER rail line that would, in turn, take us to Charles de Gaulle Airport. I can remember thinking... oh, the glamour of it all!

A nine-hour flight on a cramped little Delta plane dumped us in an unseasonally warm and sunny Minneapolis at 1pm local time (it’s the first March since records began, that there has been zero snowfall here), and it was straight on to a rental car, and a battle with the sat-nav, to find our way to Uncle Edgar’s Mystery bookstore where mystery connoisseur, Jeff Hatfield, was waiting with a pile of some eighty books for me to sign.

As I began the first tendonitis-torturing signing session of the tour, an unexpected visitor dropped by the shop - Ina, the cousin of my Dutch neighbour in France. The world just keeps on shrinking. She and La Patronne went for a coffee while I signed and asked Jeff for some reading recommendations.

These were his tips - hot off the press: “Frag Box”, by Richard A. Thompson; “The Bricklayer”, by Noah Boyd; and “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Apple”, by Alan Bradley.

It was then on to the home of Elizabeth and Tom Carr with whom we were staying overnight. Elizabeth is the daughter of our old neighbours from France, and our frequent host in this Minnesotan city.

By now it was around midnight, Paris time, and I was beginning to wilt. Much coffee was required to keep me on my feet till it was time to head to Once Upon a Crime, the bookstore where I was to give my talk. The store is owned by Pat and Gary, an amazing couple whose tiny, chaotic, book-filled shop is a must on the itinerary of any self-respecting crime writer on a US tour.

It was the first stop on my first US tour five years ago, when only a handful of people turned up. After all, who the hell had ever heard of Peter May? Five years on, and the place was packed Standing room only, and I delivered the first of more than twenty talks that I will give on this tour - setting the shape and form of the others to come.

By the time I was finished my talk, and the signing, it was 3am, Paris time, and a bunch of us set off in the dark to find a little restaurant called The Corner Table. Among the group was my old friend, Carl Brookins - a stalwart of the Minnesota Crime Wave group of writers who tour the country promoting their work. He and his wife Jean are veteran sailors, and have done battle with oceans, seas, and lakes in most parts of the world. Carl writes a highly successful and entertaining series of sailing mysteries, the latest of which is “Devils Island”.

Some food, some wine, and finally I felt myself tipping over the precipice. It really was time for bed.

I slipped wearily between the sheets almost exactly 24 hours after struggling on to that tram in wet and windy Paris, and tumbled into the clutches of a deeply embracing sleep. But only for six dream-filled hours, before waking at 5am (local) to dig out my laptop and write this blog.

An hour from now we will set off for the airport, and an early flight to Denver, Colorado, where it will all begin again.

Will someone please stop this train?


John said...

At least the transatlantic flight was EARLY - you have to be thankful for some good karma!
Your cellphone is in the mail - sorry, no cheques. :-)

Carol said...

The joys of jet lag...I remember it well!! You did so well managing to stay awake for that length of time *Takes hat off to you*

C x

elizabeth jensen carr said...

Such a fun time. And yes, P and J, you did wonderfully, considering your jet-lagged state. Looking forward to seeing you again soon in LA! ejc

carl brookins said...

Peter, I have no idea how the hell you managed to rise at such an ungodly hour to blog. Wait a minute! I was up then too.

Great to see you and Janice again.
We'll do it again soon--in France.
Research, don't you know.

Hello to your lovely wife--somebody should ask you about that Chinese morgue!

peter_may said...

John, the phone arrived! Carol, I can't remember ever seeing you wearing a hat!! Elizabeth, rendezvous LA confirmed and set in stone!!! Carl, it's 6am here in Denver - 5am back in Minneapolis. Same damned time. So I guess you're up brewing coffee too. But before I write today's blog I am going to trek off through the oxygen starved atmosphere of this mile high city for my first Starbucks of the tour. Mmmmmh.

Janice said...

Can I just say, Peter, that 6am in Denver is 7am (not 5am) back in Minneapolis. But don't worry about it - that's what I'm here for...!

John said...

To reinforce what Janice said - if it is 6 am.m in Denver and 5 a.m. in Minneapolis, then you are wearing your Earth back to front...

peter_may said...

I can tell you that right now my brain feels inside out, never mind back to front!

DJ Kirkby said...

I know how horrible the sensation of jet lag is and am impressed that you managed to stay awake all day and into the evening.I've never thought about how painful it must be to sign many books, I just assumed it would be nice to have people lining up wanting your signature. I'd like to know more about your talks, do you write them out before hand and paractice wha tyou're going to say or do you just open your mouth and start talking?

peter_may said...

Basically, D.J., I just open my mouth and start talking. Usually I have a theme that I have thought about, but I never write anything down since I would feel limited by it - always trying to remember what I was supposed to say. On this tour my theme is research, and how research shaped the three books I am talking about.