So this summer we did a batty crazy thing. We borrowed a seven-year-old Prius from my mom and set out with our two tweenagers to drive to my dad's place in Fresno, and then on to the Pacific, and then back. It's about 10,000 kilometers -- a quarter the circumference of the earth. WE MADE IT! See my Instagram feed for details of our adventures. Or click on READ MORE (if you haven't already) to see a gallery. (Sorry. The smart formatting is smarter than me.) .
This is part of a report I just submitted to the TD Book Week organizers, wrapping up the tour. I thought it was enough fun to share.
TD Book Week is a program that gets authors to places that authors can't get to -- Toronto authors to Vancouver Island, Calgary Authors to Newfoundland, and things like that. It also boosts places that can't usually get authors at all, like the Northwest Territories or Labrador, or in my case, Southern Saskatchewan, centered on Moose Jaw. It's a week long and it's jammed packed: known affectionately among authors as the TD death march. I did fifteen school and library visits in one week, and put almost 2000 kilometres on a rental car.
I took my daughter, known online as Ninja Princess Scientist, with me on this tour. She is in sixth grade and we recently made the decision to home school her because she was being bullied at her local school. She had never seen the Canadian prairies – or...
It's fall and I've got a book out, so I am on the road! I'm honoured to be part of this amazing lineup of writers At Calgary Wordfest. Look at this!
I am especially thrilled to have the chance to present alongside Mariko Tamaki.
Mariko and Jillian Tamaki are a pair of cousins and a writer illustrator team. They are jointly responsible for two of my favourite graphic novels: Skim, and This One Summer. Until these books, I hadn’t read a graphic novel since my superhero kick in the 80s — The Watchmen, anyone? — and so I’m really not sure how Skim landed on my shelf, but I am so glad it did. Reading it was like learning to read another language, or learning to fall in love with stories, again, and for the first time. The interplay between text and visuals, between what’s said and unsaid, between interior and exterior is absolutely stunning. They feel so real and so tender, as if they were about my teenaged self, who I just want to love up and rescue....
Halfway through my last book tour I went -- very oddly -- home. Home to Omaha, the city where I grew up. And having gone back to Omaha was almost like going back in time for me -- or like that weird lurch in time when you relize the baby you haven't seen in a bit now has a driver's license.
I ended up in Omaha because my old university, Creighton, has a new MFA program, and they invited me to give a public reading, and to address the students. I also volunteered to pop into the physics department and chat about science writing. (I actually studied physics, not English, and still work as a science writer.) It was lovely to see my old mentors, in both poetry and physics, to whom I owe so so much. Dr. Cherney, Dr. Spencer -- thank you. I don't think I ever did say that enough.
It's fall, so I'm back out on the road with my new book. My mom is travelling with me this trip, in lieu of taking my entire writing career and hanging on the fridge in a look-what-my-kid-made way. This is what moms are for. It's like the opposite of a Kirkus Review.
First stop: Nashville, and the Southern Festival of Books. I had never been to Nashville, but I'm love. We came in from the airport on Friday night, tossed our bags down, and followed our noses to honky tonk. Honky Tonk came with food only with an hour wait, so we instead accosted random people for recommendations, and found ourselves at the suburb and Skulls Rainbow Room in apparently-it's-famous Printer's Alley. The food was outstanding, and the music — a torch singer who opened with “Summer Time”, threw in “Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer” and closed with “At Last,” — so so good. Really, the whole thing could not have been better.
Day two and three on the pre-publication book tour saw me in LA! It's a odd book tour with no public events, since the book is not out yet. Meet and greets with booksellers and reviewers, etc. Dinners and lunches and cocktail parties. It's amazing and exhausting and strange for me as an author, as a person who mostly talks quietly to fictional people. I swan in a rooftop pool in Beverly Hills, which does not seem like a part of my usual life.
But also I feel so lucky. My agent Jane is based in LA, and she picked me up at the airport, and we went to the Malibu Pier, and everything was so new: the color and shape of the cliffs, the architecture, every single growing thing, and the ocean. I went to put my toes in the ocean and ended up soaked to the thighs (it's a surfing beach, and the waves are new to me). And really I almost cried. It's a big old world and I feel I want to do big things and then come back to the ocean to keep the in proper scale.
This week, I’m off on a pre-publication book tour! That’s when you go meet and greet with booksellers and reviewer, before the book is out.
First stop, Seattle! I had just a few hours free, so I wandered down the five blocks from the hotel, passing (I am not kidding) three hiking outfitter shops, a cactus florist, a store that appeared to sell brightly painted modernist aluminum furniture and also bones, and a coffee shop that doubled as a bespoke messenger bag store. I nibbled my way through the iconic Pike Place market — nectarines, oysters, nori chips — and witnessed the fish choreography.
And then I went to cocktail party with Seattle independent booksellers. It’s a bit weird for me, frankly. My core skill is sitting quietly and talking to fictional people, which does not automatically translate into being good at cocktail parties. I feel a bit like Louis the Swan, that night they put him up at the Ritz.