Welcome to…THE KILL ZONE!!!

By Michelle Gagnon

That sounds so ominous, doesn’t it?

So I drew the short straw for the inaugural Kill Zone posting. It’s a lot of pressure. I feel the need to write something weighty and momentous, a breathtaking post befitting the gravitas of a blog launch.

After a week of pondering, I’ve still got nothing. So in lieu of providing an illuminating perspective on an important issue, I’m going to do a whiny wrap-up of my recent book tour instead. With any luck, John and Clare have come up with something more impressive for their turn. A person can always hope, right?

And away we go…

My Book Tour, aka “Death March with Signing Pen”

Just to clarify, I’m not really complaining. I’m know that I’m lucky to have books published, luckier still that people appear to be reading them, and that foolish booksellers allow me into their stores armed with my bookmarks and refrigerator magnets. I love bookstores in general, and I’m a shameless performer, so the opportunity to get up in front of people and pontificate is something you’ll have to pry from my cold dead hands. That said, as I enter week four of my book tour (which I’ve officially dubbed “death march with signing pen”), I have come to notice the downside. I’m truly a homebody at heart; I love spending ninety percent of my time locked indoors with little but a keyboard for company. So being gone for extended periods of time is not only wearing, it makes me start missing things…

1. Food: I have no idea how a person manages to eat dinner during these tours. I leave my house around 5PM to get to most of these events, and then I generally get home around 10 or 11PM. Most local restaurants have closed by the time I’ve finished reading, and when I get home I don’t have the energy to assemble a bowl of cereal. Seriously, I haven’t had a hot meal in weeks. I’m wasting away. I’ve developed a theory that this is how Lee Child remains so svelte.

2. Television: I’m way behind on my programming. I’ve actually had to delete things from my Tivo UNWATCHED to make space for more critical shows. Which presents a horrible conundrum for me: though I have yet to watch the HD version of “The Science of Sleep,” I had intended to watch it someday. Will it be on again in the future? Can I really risk deleting it in favor of an episode of Project Runway?
Which leads to my next concern: as far behind as I am on my regular series, I’m completely in the dark when it comes to reality shows. This might not seem grave to some of you, but when my husband has a better idea of who might win “So You Think You Can Dance” than I do, things have gone horribly awry.

3. Company: I can pretty much guarantee that if you do more than a few tour stops with the same author, the two of you will quickly adopt the worst attributes of an old married couple. So it was with Simon Wood and I. Early on, we found each other charming. He chuckled at my “accidentally killed off my main character” story, I gasped during his “trapped at an underground fight club in Tulsa” anecdote. But the bloom quickly faded, and by week three we were sniping at each other, rolling our eyes, and generally behaving like the main characters in “The War of the Roses.”

4. Family: Granted, this should have come first. You know things are getting bad when your kid stops recognizing you. All right, I’m exaggerating (I am a writer, after all) but after being gone for five days, then heading out for a different corner of the Bay Area every night, it does become a little surreal. Plus, I reflexively tried to sign my name on my toddler the other day. Not good.

5. Beds: Of course, at times the beds have been the least of my problems. There was, for example, the Days Inn behind the strip club in San Diego, with all sorts of sketchy characters lurking in the corridor outside my room. But a month of sleeping on strange beds does tend to wreak havoc on my spine.

6. Flights: I’m not a nervous flyer; in fact I used to look forward to getting on a plane and going somewhere exotic. Now that I’ve spent the past four weekends getting on and off planes, I have a few…let’s call them helpful suggestions…for the airlines. For instance, why not take off on time? I swear, I haven’t been on a trip in over six months that didn’t experience a two-to-five hour delay at the airport (or better yet, on the tarmac). And hey, is it really so difficult to have some form of nourishment available? I’ll pay for it; I would just love to be able to purchase that twenty-dollar mealy sandwich on the plane if I didn’t have the opportunity to grab one during my two mile-long sprint from gate 1 to gate 50 as I changed flights. And while we’re on the subject, consider turning off the seatbelt sign from time to time (an especially good idea during that three hour-long stint on the tarmac). When the person next to you maintains a running monologue on the size of their bladder, as the flight crew flips through celebrity rags and growls at anyone attempting to get out of their seats, it becomes abundantly clear that the glory days of civilian jetsetting have drawn to a tragic close.

So, anyone else have war stories to share? Best comment receives a signed edition of my first thriller THE TUNNELS. If you don’t win, console yourself by signing up for my newsletter at www.michellegagnon.com and I’ll toss your name in the hat for an Amazon Kindle, iPod Shuffle, Starbucks gift certificates, and other fabulous prizes.

Michelle Gagnon is a former modern dancer, bartender, dog walker, model, personal trainer, and Russian supper club performer. Her debut thriller The Tunnels was an IMBA bestseller. Her latest book, Boneyard, depicts a cat and mouse game between dueling serial killers. In her spare time she frantically watches television in an attempt to make room on her tivo drive.

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31 thoughts on “Welcome to…THE KILL ZONE!!!

  1. Hooray, Michelle! Fabulous first posting for the Kill Zone–and I hear ya on the lack of sleep and assorted pressures of the book tour. I haven’t had the experience yet of touring with another author–maybe this year! I knew I was wearing out my signing arm when my “plume du sinage” (forgive my poor rendition in French for “special signing pen), a Montblanc cutie that a friend gave me, ran out of both black and blue ink! L

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  2. Great post, Michelle. I can sympathize with the flights. No one in my family wants to travel with me because they all believe I’m cursed. For 2 years straight every single flight I took was plagued with mechanical difficulties, bad weather, tarmac tours and everything else that could go wrong. I had a few years of peace but last year the curse returned and is still going strong!

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  3. Fun post Michelle. You did a great job of kicking off The Kill Zone. Next time you go on a four week tour, take a camera and make your own reality show.

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  4. Great post Michelle! I sympathize especially as my next book tour looms on the horizon. I love getting out in front of people and talking about my books (well going on and on about them!) but the logistics, crap food and time away from home sound draining. I guess I’m just a homebody at heart too! A great launch for our new blog!

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  5. Wonderful blog–terrific writers–and an instant must-read! Making a desk-top short-cut now.

    I’ve really enjoyed meeting and chatting with Clare (congratulations on your award nomination! Tolja..) and Kathryn and you, Michelle! And it’ll be fun to get to know the others…

    See you soon…and happy birthday.

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  6. Fantastic start. I will be adding a link to this site from mine. As a Certified International Property Specialist I am done my fair share of traveling. Think energy bars.
    I will look forward to watching this blog grow.

    Sir John

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  7. Everyone: ask Michelle what’s the real killer item on her tour … those refrigerator magnets! They can wipe out a credit card or an RF locator chip!

    BUT worth it to hear Michelle in San Francisco.

    This blog’s a keeper.

    Camille/Margaret Grace, otherwise known as Kathryn Lilley’s blog partner.

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  8. Good luck to you all darlings – I salute your stamina and ingenuity. And by the way Michelle… if this is the worst that’s happened to you while touring.. you ain’t lived doll.

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  9. Thanks for the morning chuckles, Michelle. The blog just made my RSS collection and shall remain an open tab right next to Murderati et al. Don’t forget to erase your name from the child. He or she may get confused if teachers and friends start calling him or her MGagnon. [grin]

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  10. Michelle: YAY! You have a blog!! Good start.
    And I bet Ann Patchett is an in the closet reality show fan. You have the pluck to admit it.
    Looking forward to meeting the rest of your blog gang.

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  11. Hi Michele. This is a great beginning for a blog.

    I loved the talk about the downside of signing tours. It’s got to be work. I’m not sure I’d want to go on one.

    Marilynne

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  12. Hi Michelle, great blog. And I can empathise with you entirely on book tours. I think things like that happen to most authors – you think it’s going to be brilliant and it ends up being on Spinal Tap moment after another.
    My publisher booked a reading in a library that had been closed for flooding. And I still had to go on. Another was in a hall where they couldn’t sell, or even have, books because of local health and safety laws. I did one tour with another author but that turned into one long drinking session which lasted three days and nights. God knows what I was talking about after that.
    But still, it’s better than getting a proper job, isn’t it?

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  13. Hi guys,
    Fun blog, and it brought back memories of my maiden voyage this past spring..when I developed a serious addiction to Law&Order because it was the only constant in my life (apart from my own stump speech.) I liked the image of you signing your toddler..

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  14. LOL, Simon- I have to say, at the end of the day your stories beat my stories hands down. Apparently I need to spend more time in underground fight clubs.

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  15. And the winner of a brand-spanking new signed edition of The tunnels is…drum roll puh-lease….
    Lexi!
    Yay!
    Stay tuned for more giveaways in the next few weeks as we jumpstart our new baby blog.

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  16. Exactly what I need: another fun blog to read so I don’t write! Thanks for the entertainment, Michelle. I look forward to reading more. AND I even posted after the book giveaway.

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  17. Hi Michelle! Congratulations on all of you for the blog. It looks really nice.

    My favorite signing story involves a man who decided I needed preaching. Telling him I’m a Christian and how he preached to the choir didn’t help. Now, it’s funny but it wasn’t at the time. Thankfully a bookstore employee ‘rescued’ me. LOL!

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  18. Thanks for the dose of the reality of being a writer! Looking forward to reading more.

    Days Inn next to a strip club? Nice. How about a Days Inn next to a biker bar with concrete block walls and no air conditioning? (It was summer.) At least it was clean.

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  19. Great job for the first post! Congrats. 🙂

    You make drawing the short straw sound like a bad thing. Poor straw can’t help that it’s vertically challenged. Why can’t the tall straw get the bad rap now and then? lol

    Great suggestions for the airlines!

    -Lisa
    http://lisahaselton.tripod.com

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  20. You said you weren’t going to provide “an illuminating perspective on an important issue,” but you certainly did. And in fine style. Looking forward to reading more!

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