Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nae Rest For the Wicked

And still the sun shines. Relentlessly.

But at least it is cooling down at night, and we can keep windows open and fly screens in and breathe fresh chilled air, rather than the canned AC type.

Arizona is an amazing state. Eighty percent of it is owned by the federal government or given over to Indian reservations, leaving just 20 percent for private development - and this is the sixth largest state in the US!

Two thirds of the state’s population of over 6.5 million, live in the greater Phoenix area. So vast tracts of this state are simply empty. Desert, mountain, high plains, pine forests. The Grand Canyon. It has a stark beauty. Brutal heat in the low desert, ice cold winds and winter snow o n the upper elevations.

Phoenix itself just goes on forever. Since space is not a problem here, no one builds up. They build out. In places you can drive 125 miles to get from one side of Phoenix to the other.

Last Thursday I had an event at the Velma Teague Library in Glendale, on the outskirts of town - it was quite a drive. The library is run by the incomparable Lesa Holstine, who took assiduous notes during my talk and reproduced them faithfully on her blog the following day - along with a terrific review of “Freeze Frame”.

Then on Friday we briefly exchanged the heat of the desert for the humidity of Houston in Texas. After a two-and-a-half hour flight, we landed in temperatures of 35C and 85 percent humidity. A hotel on the edge of the freeway, within striking distance of the Bush International Airport, was home for the next two days. Such is the glamorous life of the writer.

As compensation, we found a great Indian restaurant in a strip mall not far away - it is the only cuisine we really miss in France. We ate there on both Friday and Saturday nights, making up for a long period of abstinence.

The book event, at Murder by the Book, drew a good crowd on the Saturday afternoon. Many books were bought, and many more signed. And then on Sunday it was an escape from the humidity, back to the dry heat of the desert.

The trip was punctuated by my failure to meet my obligation to provide a Friday blog entry for Type M for Murder, exacerbated by the failure of my invited Sunday guest blogger to respond. So in the early hours of Sunday morning, I sat with my iPad on my lap in my hotel room, writing an entry for immediate upload. Thank God for technology.

Back in Scottsdale, it was back to work. Monday saw me break the back of the story for my follow-up to “The Blackhouse” - the second in the trilogy set on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. It has been playing elusively around the outer fringes of my mind for some time. But following an hour-long telephone interview with a former “inmate” of an Edinburgh orphanage, combined with some detailed research into “bog bodies”, things finally started falling into place.

Today we had a four-way Skype conference with the French film producers who have bought the rights to “The Killing Room”. We were discussing the first draft long synopsis of the script treatment, and detailed notes will follow in the next two days. A revised version must be produced within the next two weeks. Which will be fun... given that we go back on the road on Friday, and don’t stop till we fly back to Paris from Washington DC in sixteen days’ time.

Then they want a meeting in Paris at the beginning of June. No problem. I only have to fit it in to a schedule that includes three days of promotional events in Lyon, followed by another at Fréjus on the Med., then Le Havre on the English Channel. Not to mention a visitor from Scotland for a week, followed by a research trip to the Hebrides, a promotional weekend in Corsica, and a trip to Hong Kong! I guess I must be the walking, talking incarnation of wickedness.

Anyway. First things first. It’s goodbye to Arizona Friday morning, and hello New York state Friday night. Followed by a family wedding on Saturday.

Ah, well, time to hitch my kilt up around my oxters and get on with it.


DJ Kirkby said...

I read your 'Type M for Murder' post. I thought it was very interesting. After reading this post though I am wondering if you ever sit back, amazed at all you have accomplished? Do you get overwhelmed by all that is happening or have you got used to it now and it's just part of your job? Oh and as for the sun and heat, we could do with some of that here. It’s really cold again and some places in England have had snow for the past few days!

Lesa said...


Thank you again for making the trek to Velma Teague. It was a pleasure to host you, and meet Janice. I hope to see you again in Arizona. Thank you.

Lesa - www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com

peter_may said...

DJ, I began writing a long time ago because - and I don't know why - I was driven to do it. Somehow I ended up making my living doing it. Now, it's just what I do. I never stop to think about it, just do it. But I never forget how lucky I am being able to earn my crust by doing what I like.

Lesa, it was a great pleasure to give a talk at the Teague Library. And what a library! I have rarely seen a library so full of people and life. You are doing a fantastic job there!

I felt compelled to convey to friends back home in Scotland just how vast greater Pheonix really is. The drive to the Teague library took, perhaps, 45 minutes. If I was in Glasgow and drove for 45 minutes, I would be in Edinburgh!

Ann said...

A Scot living in such heat, if it gets to 56'f in Glagow, we think it is an amazing heat wave.

Been to Dallas many times, well I suppose somebody has too, and the heat is.....overbearing, it takes the breath from your lungs, makes the hair stick to the heid.

New York, now your talking, the most wonderful place on earth.
Good luck to you.