Bad Luck and Trouble
US Day 14|
June 5, 2007
The last day of this year’s tour…sad, in a way, but a nice place to end. I love the early shuttle down to DC, especially early in the week—always a couple of politicians or diplomats with protection details around them, plus harassed staffers…just like the West Wing. And I like DC itself…a pretty town full of earnest folks—but literate folks. You see more people carrying books here than anywhere.
My hotel was a post office the first time I came here.
Some podcast recording, some drop-ins, and then the evening event at Borders at Bailey’s Crossroads. I invited fellow Bantam author Alex Barclay to come with me—her first book “Darkhouse” is just out here and I recommend it highly. We had a good crowd, including as often happens here some interesting people from the White House and the Pentagon—one guy was a real-life army CID “special investigator”…just like Reacher.
So that’s it for this year. Next come Thrillerfest and Harrogate in July.
Sincere thanks to all of you who came out to see me. Your company was appreciated more than you can imagine.
US Day 13|
June 1, 2007
So, on Wednesday I got an e-mail from my brother with some crucial research information that I needed for the last-but-two sequence in the new book …you’ll recognize it when you see it—a classic Reacher tension-builder just before the thing happens that you’ve been wondering about. So on Thursday I wrote that part, and the next, and the…last part. At 3.15 in the afternoon, the book was finished. Finally. The title is “Nothing To Lose”—turns out that Sandra Brown is using “Play Dirty” in August, so I put out an APB for a new title, and lots of people responded, including Rae and Janine, who were hanging out in Seattle and trawling through favorite Hendrix lyrics looking for a good one-liner…and they found one, so thanks to them. I think “Nothing to Lose” is very Reacher-ish.
Friday was my day at BookExpo America…a booth signing in the morning, a panel, a lunch, an interview, the formal signing line in the afternoon. I was next to Judy Blume, and it was very nice to meet her. BookExpo is gigantic, and it’s kind of fun, with dozens of random encounters in the crush.
In the evening I read through the new book and tidied up a couple of lines and then e-mailed it out at one in the morning. Done! Now I’m chilling for the weekend, getting ready for the last event near Washington DC on Tuesday and the serious business of relaxing all summer. It’s a hard life, but someone’s got to do it.
US Day 12|
May 30, 2007
A strangely relaxing day today—Delta Connection was a model of punctuality out of CVG, and I had time for a little shopping in Philadelphia. Bought some jeans and shirts, to wear later this week.
The evening event was at the B & N in Bryn Mawr. I first appeared there nine years ago, but won’t be there again—the store is closing. I was their last-ever author.
So, that was the antepenultimate tour day, and the penultimate travel day. Now I’m BlackBerrying this from the Town Car on the way back to New York. More from BEA on Friday.
US Day 11|
May 29, 2007
Lee & Rick Clark
The best laid plans…Sharon’s travel karma is usually immaculate, but the words “La Guardia” and “American Eagle” adjacent on my schedule gave me pause. La Guardia always has long take-off queues and American Eagle seems to think that to arrive in the right calendar year qualifies as “on time” (not counting December flights, of course.) Plus, the first engagement was morning TV 30 minutes after scheduled touch-down time.
The phantom passenger was not required because the plane was a regional jet (another not-good portent…no first class, and the danger of unauthorized reclining) and I was in the A seat in a 1-aisle-2 format.
We took off…late, and arrived late…so, no TV…which was probably a mercy for the unsuspecting viewers of Kentucky and Ohio, because I was looking pretty rough. (There’s a reason why most folks agree that my most effective TV performance to date was on The Late Late Show, and it concerns those two words beginning with L.)
So, after that, I did some radio and a thing for Time Magazine Online, then had a nap and some cheese and coffee, and then headed out for the evening event at Books & Co. Big SRO crowd including occasional forumite and long-time friend and Reacher Creature Marcia. She brought me brownies…perfect!
US Day 10|
May 24, 2007
Lee signs stacks at
Seattle Mystery Bookshop
Very short flight and then a very nice day in Seattle…absolutely all traditions were maintained—the Seattle Mystery Books event, the Third Place Books event…
and the champagne-and-chocolate post-event party with Janine, Rae, Cornelia and Kim. A lot to celebrate and some stuff to mourn, but like the best chocolate, life is bittersweet.
Home tomorrow, and the weekend off. More from the road Tuesday.
US Day 9|
May 23, 2007
Portland is a pretty nice place—closer to the Sixties than most other towns, and all the better for it. Did some radio, had some lunch, did some more radio, and waited for The Call…the second Wednesday after release day is NYT List day. You know the news, and very nice it is, too. Very happy. The numbers behind the number are great: BLT is 63% up on The Hard Way week-on-week.
The evening event at Powells was fabulous. Big crowd, including Janine’s mom, who is a total sweetie.
US Day 8|
May 22, 2007
The plane out to San Francisco was oversold, so the phantom passenger had to give up her seat to a young man, who did the decent thing and slept quietly all the way, thereby preserving harmony.
San Francisco weather was spectacular…traffic cooperated, so was able to do a USA Today phoner from escort Naomi’s house in peace and quiet. Then did midday event from Stacey’s…big crowd including our Rae, our Cornelia, and the real Frances Neagley.
Sales news continues to be cheerful…BLT is still in the UK top ten, despite having launched what feels like a million years ago.
Evening event was at Book Passage in Corte Madera, followed by dinner with the aforementioned Rae and Cornelia.
Just another fun, fun day on the road. My father’s birthday too…83 years old.
Tomorrow, new ground…Oregon. Never been there before.
US Day 7|
May 21, 2007
Happiness is a
The phantom passenger was back on board this morning—thanks, Sharon—which guaranteed a pleasant ride up to Denver. Early to the gate, smooth pick up by Lisa…straight to the studio for some morning TV, then to Boulder for lunch and the midday event at Cynthia Nye’s store High Crimes (which apparently is a reference to the altitude, not my default mental state). Then a drop-in at Laurie Versherr’s store and the evening event at the Tattered Cover’s new location. Terrific crowd, including my friend Maddee, lovely as ever. She does the tech stuff for the site. Like all the women in my life—beauty and a brain the size of a planet. Did I say I love this job? Sales news ain’t too shabby, either. Did I say I really love this job?
US Day 6|
May 20, 2007
Lee & Mary Dodd
Slept well and got up feeling surprisingly good, given the hour. Flew to Houston and headed for Murder By The Book…another seriously huge crowd…to say SRO implies a few people standing at the back, but in reality they far outnumbered the people sitting down. Thanks to all for their incredible support.
Early dinner with my favorite Texans…who other than Deanie and Ken?
US Day 5|
May 19, 2007
We miss you, too, Cornelia!
Unfortunately Sharon forgot the phantom passenger today, so I had to sit next to a malodorous frat boy all the way to Phoenix. Dude, too much garlic last night. Like, waaay too much.
Phoenix was nice and warm—100 in the afternoon, according to a bank sign. First engagement was an in-store signing at Costco, then the annual visit to The Poisoned Pen. Insanely huge crowd—easily 140 people in a space fit for 90. But hey, who’s complaining? Although one guy asked me why I hadn’t brought Cornelia Read again. So I guess he was kind of complaining.
Great week so far.
US Day 4|
May 18, 2007
Kevin, Dawn & Lee
Woke up at six thirty for three consecutive radio interviews…did them all from bed, coffee and ashtray at my elbow…don’t know what the listeners thought, but I was very comfortable. Then I got up and did a fourth at an actual studio.
Then it was time for the lunch event at the Mystery Bookstore on Broxton. Great format—we all just ate and chatted.
Then a meeting with A Very Famous Movie Producer—won’t drop names, but if anything comes of it, you all will be the first to know.
The evening event was at Vromans in Pasadena. SRO crowd, fun questions.
On to somewhere else tomorrow—haven’t checked the schedule yet. Thanks as always to Karen for excellent escorting in La La Land.
US Day 3|
May 17, 2007
Karena, Jose & Lee
Another empty seat next to me on the plane this morning. Sharon is definitely doing the phantom passenger thing.
Arrived in LA on time at 10.30—happy to be back…it’s a place I enjoy very much. First stop was lunch, and then the lunchtime event at Mysteries to Die For in Thousand Oaks—lots of good friends there. Then room service pie and coffee at the Four Seasons, and off to the evening event in Torrance. Traffic was bad and we were a little late…Saw Dan M again and met new forumite Jose. Busy day tomorrow, so…Goodnight!
US Day 2|
May 16, 2007
Sunnie, Lee & James
No travel horror stories today…in fact quite the reverse: the guy in front of me was reading The Hard Way in paperback and the only empty seat on the whole plane was…next to me. Maybe Sharon is booking phantom passengers to guarantee harmony in the air.
Nashville was cold and rainy all through the several minutes I spent outside. First stop was the giant distributor Ingram where I met some charming folks and signed 750 books for immediate shipment to small stores here and there.
Then a print interview with a paper from Dayton, ahead of my visit there, and then the evening event at Davis-Kidd…terrific crowd including writer friend JT Ellison and A-grade fans James and Sunnie who brought Reacher toothbrushes!
US Day 1|
May 15, 2007
Kekla Magoon & Lee
Launch day … which is still very exciting, even the eleventh time around. The book is already into its fourth printing, and it isn’t even in the shops yet—so if you want a first edition, make sure you’re getting one.
A day of two halves, with a large gap between…which made it a day of three halves, really. Sharon picked me up at 10.15 for a round of stock signings in Manhattan, which were done by about 1 p.m., so I finished packing—added pajamas, which I usually forget. Not a problem, except when it comes to opening the door for room service breakfast—and then I worked a little toward getting next year’s book finished, and drank some coffee, and took a short nap, and then Sharon picked me up again for the ride to the evening event at Barnes & Noble at Lincoln Center.
Wonderful crowd, new friends and old, including the Terrible Trio from Bay City MI, and Dot from England, but in the distance stakes they were upstaged by a guy from Germany and a couple from India and a lady from Australia. I felt the event was a little short, but the B&N guy knew the signing line was going to be long, so maybe he was right.
Tomorrow the road beckons, so if all of you would play “On the Road Again” real loud at 7.59 in the morning, which is when my plane to Nashville takes off, we can get a vibe going.
US Day 0|
May 14, 2007
Women buy shoes and handbags,
Lee buys Rimowa.
Just like I don’t outline my books, I don’t plan my life much either, which makes the day before a tour a busy one. This one got off to a great start when I got up and checked my e-mail … to find a very nice New York Times review. First mention of it in my inbox was from Maggie, who had stayed up until 1.20 a.m. last night to get ahold of it. See why I think she’s the best?
Then I did a couple of radio interviews and checked my tour schedule, to see if I was going to be anywhere long enough to get laundry done. Answer: yes, I have two days in LA. This calculation is important in order to figure out how many shirts I need to take. Answer: five. So I opened up my closet to see if I had five identical clean shirts. Answer: yes, and they’re blue. So next: do I have at least four identical pairs of blue jeans? I hate having to choose what to wear each day, so the simplest answer is to take identical outfits. (Fashion note: the New York event isn’t technically “on the road”, because I live here, so I won’t be wearing the road outfit.)
Further fashion note: jackets by Brooks Brothers (their extra-long size works for me) … shoes by Fosters of Jermyn Street in London.
Next: throw everything in the suitcase.
Breaking news: I have a new suitcase. I’m a total luggage junkie, and I treated myself to a Rimowa aluminum roll-on. Very nice. I love hard shell cases, because of the discipline they impose. Bulging is just not possible.
More breaking news: I have a BlackBerry. I don’t have space for a laptop (see above) and I got sick of trying to find internet terminals in hotels, and sometimes failing (see UK tour blog) so I finally gave in. It’s Rae’s fault, really. Last year in Phoenix she showed me her BlackBerry and told me they were pretty easy to use. Now, in the front part of my brain I know Rae is much smarter than me, so I translated her assurances to a more realistic level—i.e., Lee, don’t even think about it—but the back part of my brain was saying, Lee, don’t let a girl beat you (yet again) … so nine months later I walked over to T-Mobile and signed up. I got help and moral support from Barb Burg, head of publicity at Bantam Dell and a big-time BlackBerry evangelist, so now I’m good to go. (Already got RSI in my signing shoulder from fiddling with the damn buttons … why can’t they make them bigger … oh, that would be called a laptop, see above.) My own publicist, the wonderful and humane Sharon (humane because she hasn’t scheduled any early starts this year) is also a BlackBerry enthusiast, so I feel I’m in the world now. Only Maggie is now BlackBerry-less—but she had her brain altered years ago so that her alpha waves connect straight to the wireless network—she thinks it, it happens.
It’s a metaphor for my life—in the grip of powerful and intelligent women.
More from the road in the days to come—I hope I see you all somewhere.
April 5, 2007
Lee's relationship with plants
has always been fractious
South again from Sheffield to Welwyn Garden City, which was one of the first overspill towns designed to relieve pressure on London. Very…garden-ish, basically. Lots of parkland and flowers. Not my scene. The only expanses of green I want to see are what comes out of an ATM. The lunchtime sit-and-sign went well and then we headed for Bromley for the evening event, the last of the tour. Big attendance, lots of fun. Got news that BLT stays at number one for at least another week, by a big margin. Thanks again, UK!
To be continued May 15th, from the US…
April 4, 2007
Apologies for the late blog, but all will be explained: this morning we headed north…not exactly out of cyberspace, but close to its edge, and certainly out far enough that the hotel didn’t have an internet terminal, and since I don’t carry a laptop or a Blackberry, I was out of the loop for a spell. The event was in Chesterfield, hosted by The Peak Bookshop but held in the library, and very nice it was, too. The hotel was actually across the county line in Yorkshire, in Sheffield, close to where I went to college. Reason: we had to find the right satellite feed for Brad to watch his beloved Chelsea play in the European Champions League. Hey, if you want Brad to drive, you gotta give a little, too.
April 3, 2007
RC* Mike the Magician & Lee
Late-ish start from London today…drove to Swindon, to WH Smiths main office, to sign stock centrally for their many branches. They gave us lunch, which was very hospitable. Then we headed for Milton Keynes, where I had a great event two years ago. The store had changed its name from Ottakers (then) to Waterstones (now) but the event was just as terrific. Familiar faces Ali Karim, Mike the Magician, Dot Youngs, and newly-minted PhD Doctor Bryony Youngs were there. Great to see everyone…and the sales news is still healthy…this just in: BLT is now number one in Ireland, too. Thanks, Ireland!
April 2, 2007
Vehicular change today—the Mercedes limo went back and the new Bradmobile came out of the shop, so it’s back to individual armchairs and every electronic gadget known to man, including DVD, on which we already watched two movies.
Light day today—three stock signings in the West End, then some radio for the BBC, then a trip to Brighton to sign stock in British Bookshops’ warehouse.
Evening off—no formal event today—so I watched my soccer team Aston Villa on the TV. They scraped a 1-1 tie…played pretty badly. Situation normal, then. At least the Yankees won—situation normal there too.
April 1, 2007
The Telegraph interviews Lee
Photo: Carrie Levy
Years ago I heard from another UK author about a touring thing called a “day off”…
wasn’t sure what it was, but I found out today. What happens is you get up late, linger over coffee and room-service breakfast and the Sunday papers (especially the parts with the bestseller lists)…and then you stroll out into sunny, spring- like London, and then you head to your editor’s house for a long, langourous Sunday lunch, and then you come back and…do nothing, basically. A great idea! Probably the first day since last August that I haven’t had to do anything productive.
March 31, 2007
Put Lee...in the Comfy Chair!
Python does sit-and-sign
Got up late, breakfasted late, and…wasn’t late for the Waterstones event in Bournemouth. This was a sit-and-sign, which I don’t often do, but the store has no space for a formal event. Got there are about 11.45 and assumed there was something going on at next-door Virgin Records because there was a huge line on the sidewalk outside. Realized it was actually the Waterstones line, and they were waiting for me. Very nice! A solid 90 mins of signing one-by-one—enlivened by champion UK stalkers Dawn and Clair—and then back to London.
All in all, a fine week. Let’s hope the next few days are as good … I have a feeling they will be, because all the events are at favorite locations.
March 30, 2007
Reacher conquers the UK lists,
Headed down to Portsmouth first thing…as far south as you can get on the mainland without falling off the island into the sea. Signed plenty of stock up and down the coast and then headed to the (early) evening event in Southampton. 100+ people, fun event…haven’t been here before, but may return.
And…Friday is the day when the bestseller positions are released. Sales are calculated Monday—Sunday. BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE was therefore suffering a handicap because it went on sale last Thursday, which gave it only half a week to compete. But nevertheless…it went straight to NUMBER ONE, and by a big margin. Thanks, UK! That’s the double whammy—paperback and hardback straight in at the top. Feels great. Really, really great.
March 29, 2007
Bryan Hale & Lee
Got up at the thrilling time of 5.30 a.m. to try out the social-technological- economic experiment that is Ryanair at the Dublin airport. My advice: avoid. Swim the Irish Sea instead. Worse than the worst bus in the world. But Brad was there to meet me at Stansted in the Mercedes, so a pleasant drive to Norwich ensued—for the Jarrold Literary Lunch, which was a little above my pay grade. Not too many hardcore Reacher Creatures at the start…but there were some by the end. Then mass signing at distributors Bertrams, then a drive to Chelmsford for the evening event. Well attended, pleasant folks, very nice. Sales of BLT seem strong…we’re hoping for good news soon. Back in London tonight, heading south tomorrow.
Note from Webmaven Maggie: Congrats to Bryan Hale, who’ll receive a Reacher travel toothbrush for sending in a photo from Lee’s signing event. His name now goes into the hat for those rare gifties (read the latest REACHER REPORT for more info.)
March 28, 2007
When Irish eyes are smiling…which they were here in Dublin today, even if the weather wasn’t—although it got sunny later. Six media stops, two photographers, four bookstores, all in Declan’s delightful company.
Tomorrow we start the actual events, which I’m looking forward to. Early rumors about sales sound good. Definitely the UK edition is a handsome book. I’d buy it myself, but I have already read it.
Day 1 & 2|
March 26, 2007
A good day begins
with a good breakfast
Late breakfast on Monday, late start, gentle beginning…recorded some podcasts (whatever they are) in the morning and did some radio in the afternoon…then had a very nice publication dinner at the Lanesborough hotel in London. So far, so good.
Wrote this while waiting for my Tuesday flight to Dublin. A slow acceleration into today…three stock-signings in the morning, followed by three radio interviews in the afternoon, now off to Dublin for dinner and a print interview.
March 25, 2007
The only seat better than Lee's
Got up *very* early again to make a 5.15 car to JFK for the BA day flight to London.
Seat 3A—the best front-cabin seat on the BA long- haul 777s—equidistant from the galley and the toilet, sleep guaranteed, and therefore not much to report.
Met at LHR by Brad, driven to hotel, checked in, back to sleep. More tomorrow.
March 24, 2007
Breaker, breaker for the
Got up very late and went straight to the “Crime Wave” lunch, where I was the headline speaker. No idea what I said—improvised the whole thing based on … not sure what, really. No doubt it will all come back to haunt me.
Drove back to the 212 straight after lunch.
The Virginia Festival of the Book, by the numbers:
Total miles driven: 702.2
Total hours on the road: 10 1/4
Average speed, miles per hour: 68.5
Gas used, in gallons: 29.63
Average fuel consumption, in miles per gallon: 23.7
# of speed traps detected by new gadget: 31
# of speed traps missed by new gadget: 1
Over limit, in miles per hour: 31
Speeding fines in dollars: 211
March 23, 2007
Don't mess with a hungry
Got up very early and hauled the Jag out of the garage and drove down to Charlottesville, Virginia, for the Virginia Festival of the Book. Stopped in Quantico for late breakfast/early lunch at the Burger King next to the USMC base with a bunch of friendly jarheads. Some discussion as to whether real-life Marines could kick the fictional Reacher’s ass … a surreal time was had by all.
Met up with famous forumite Heidi Moos and went to the “Crime Wave” cocktail party, then a quick pizza, then my 8pm panel with Tess Gerritsen, Laura Lippman, and George Pelecanos. Moderated by the legendary Willetta Heising … a fun time was had by all.
Early bed, see first sentence.