Total Mayhem, the 11th book in my Jonathan Grave thriller series dropped on June 25, and now I’m on the road meeting booksellers and fans and fans-to-be. There’s something exciting and romantic in the phrase, “book tour.” It’s a heck of a conversation starter.
“What brings you to town?” asks the desk clerk or Uber driver.
“I’m here on my book tour,” I reply.
“Oh, you’re really an author? I love to read. What’s your book about?”
And we’re off to the races. “Terrorists are targeting Mid-American small towns, hitting high school football games and county administrative buildings. We expect major targets to be hit in big cities, but when the carnage comes to soft targets that have always been considered safe, the nation is rocked. When the FBI learns that one of the terrorists knows Jonathan Grave, it falls to Jonathan to root out the network and destroy it.”
And then I give them a business card (and a bookmark if I have one on me).
My first stop was Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop, in Mechanicsburg, PA., and that turned out to be my favorite format for these things. People had to sign up in advance, and the outstanding management team provided soft pretzels and dipping sauces (as if there’s a better dipping sauce than mustard). I spoke for about 45 minutes, then it was time for the ice cream social and book signing.
I had another nice crowd in Sea Isle City, New Jersey at the main library branch there. Thanks to BAM for providing books for sale.
My lodging in New Jersey was a bed and breakfast in Cape May. Here’s where it got a little weird. (Full disclosure: I’m a Hyatt and Hilton kind of guy, but there’s a three-night minimum this time of year.) Using AirBnB, I reserved a “room with a private bath.” It had already been a long day when I arrived, and I was shocked to find that in a town that’s famous for its Victorian extravagance, I found myself in a suburban rambler. My room was just the guest room in a lady’s house, and my “private bath” was down the hall.
That night, I Uber’d downtown to see the sights and enjoy the food in Cape May–which really is a gorgeous town. After dinner, I wandered into Congress Hall, a stately old hotel, which features The Brown Room. The picture leaves no doubt where the name comes from. I got a comfortable seat on a sofa, ordered a martini, and took out my fountain pen and pad of paper, and started writing away on Hellfire, the next Grave book which is due to the publisher on September 15. The lounge was crowded, a talented piano player was tickling the ivories in the corner, and I got totally consumed by the scene I was writing.
Here’s where it got really interesting. Some people are unnerved, it turns out, when a guy sits by himself and writes page after page. Three different people interrupted to ask what I was doing–but with a paranoid edge.
One asked, “Are you writing down what we’re talking about?” Think about that question and the hubris it represents. Truth be told, I had no idea what they were talking about because I was playing with my imaginary friends. I told her, “No, I’m an author on book tour and I’m on deadline for my next book . . .” (See paragraph 2 above.)
Another was just the curious, “I’m sorry to interrupt, but you seem so intense. What are you writing?” See above.
But this was the craziest: “You’re writing a review of this place, aren’t you? How are you qualified to do that?” See above.
As I write this, I’m leaving Rehoboth Beach, Delaware on my way to Sykesville, Maryland. After the Maryland event, I go straight home, where we’ve got to get the house ready for a launch party this weekend, where we’ll have over 100 people. That’ll be a lot of signing.
Then, next week we’re off to New York for ThrillerFest.
Happy Independence Day, everyone!