BOOK & BLOG
March 20, 2012
Books of the Week:
Red, White, and Blood, Christopher Farnsworth
Christopher Farnsworth’s premise – that the presidents of the U.S. have, starting with Andrew Johnson, had a vampire at their beck and call – is simply fun. And in Farnsworth’s strongest book yet in the Nathaniel Cade series, Cade encounters an old enemy he’s killed over and over in various guises . . . none other than the Boogeyman. The ingenious part of the book (using various notorious serial killers and their quotes to confirm the existence of such a creature) is – well, I’m envious. Cade continues to be one of modern literature’s most frightening vampires, and this is an excellent read. This book is an APRIL release.
Rob Thurman’s latest Cal-and-Niko book, Doubletake, is also a strong entry in a series. This was my lucky week. We finally meet Niko’s true father, and he looks just like Niko. He apologizes for his neglect, while obviously made nervous by Niko’s half-brother Cal, whose non-human half is a dreaded Auphe. There’s a sort of convention of Goodfellows, a Greek god or two, and a terrible half-Auphe like Caliban, who’s determined to get Cal to discard his humanity. There’s real tension in this plot, since Cal is very close to turning Auphe in truth.
I’m a huge fan of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, and though I haven’t heard anything recently about Peter Jackson’s plan to film these wonderful books I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it actually happens. Crucible of Gold bobs back up to the previous level of the saga; the last book or two, while still must-reads for followers of Captain Laurence and his dragon friend, have been the equivalent of J.K. Rowling’s “camping” passages. Maybe necessary, but not as exciting to read. Gold is right back there at the top, as we travel with the dragons to South America, meeting with many adventures along the way: capture, mutiny, storms. And Napoleon! A face-to-face with the emperor himself is in this book. Enjoy, all you Novik fans! I did.
What’s on my mind this week? The lack of patience in today’s general population, when it comes to on-line things.
If you’ll check my professional Facebook page, you’ll see the same messages from me repeated over and over. And over. And yet the questions keep rolling in . . . the same questions.
First, let me say that I’m glad people want me to come sign books in their town. Believe me, I am. And I’d love to oblige each and every one. But when would I write, if I did that? That’s why my tours are seldom more than two weeks.
And, you may feel, it’s easy for me to do this. Well, in one sense, that’s quite true. I fly first class. I stay in great hotels. I have a lot of help getting from Point A to Point B. All I have to do is sit at a table and sign books. How hard can that be?
It’s not hard, but it’s draining. It’s like getting pumped up for a performance, then afterwards feeling washed out. There again, a privilege to be able to do this . . .
But back to the original issue. I post over and over, “My tour schedule is up. That’s where I’m going. I’m not going anywhere else. Look at my website for event details. I have no say over where I go.”
And yet every time I visit my Facebook page, the questions are: Are you coming anywhere close to Timbuctoo? Can I bring a bag of books to the signing? What time does it start? Why can’t you pick where you go? Who’s in charge, if you’re not?
And here are my answers: Check my schedule on the website or on Facebook. Check with the stores to find out what their rules are for each signing. Check my schedule again. And as far as the determination on where I’ll appear . . .
I know I’ve discussed this before, but here’s how my stops are picked. My publicist and the sales force (and gosh knows who all else) meet and discuss where I should go. I did request the south this time, since we’d ignored it the past couple of years, I felt. I have to visit stores that have hosted large signings before. They have to be well versed in crowd control and procedures. Though with the advent of ebooks, my crowds have grown smaller, still I get more than a typical signing. (As an aside, earlier in my career I had signings where NOBODY came, so I do think it’s wonderful when readers show up. And I don’t take it for granted.) These stores have to demonstrate willingness and ability. No one wants to drive for a couple of hours (or more) to an event that’s chaotic. We all – the store, Penguin, me -- want this to be a great experience for anyone who’s taken the trouble to come.
So it’s not as simple as saying, “There’s a store two miles away. Sometimes it hosts author signings. Why don’t you go there?”
Does this come off whiny and over-privileged? I hope not. The book industry usually takes some explaining, and I hope I’ve done that. Thanks for listening . . . again.
© 2012 Charlaine Harris