Dispatches from the Road
We’re four days in on the life of I Have Some Questions For You; here’s what’s up so far!
I Signed 3,000 Books
First of all, let me just say that this is not normal, it’s never happened to me before, and I’m enormously grateful. This is 650 of them, at The Strand:
Months ago I signed a few thousand tip-in pages, which means blank pieces of paper that were then sent to the printer and bound into the books. A lot of stores have those. But then there are stores like The Strand that ordered a bunch of signed copies for their book clubs and want them signed on the actual title page. I was able to visit them the day before pub day and sign all these…
And then the next day, at the Penguin office, I signed 2,500 that were headed out to bookstore book clubs around the country. I have no idea how to embed video, but this is what 2,500 books looks like, and this here is what I looked like signing them.
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Is my hand broken now?
No, because I sign with a big Sharpie and don’t push down hard. But my shoulder wasn’t very happy.
Good Morning, uh, Texas?
This is not about not knowing what city I’m in. It’s about the absurdity of letting a professional pickle ball player drive me through the snow to purchase a webcam at 7 am in Portsmouth, NH, in order to do live Texas television.
A lot of book tour is evening readings and signings, but then there are also the media events you squeeze in throughout the day. In this case, I was supposed to be on Good Morning Texas from my Portsmouth hotel room at 9:30 am, in order to promote my Dallas reading next week. After a great Portsmouth event and dinner with friends, I got back to my hotel room at midnight, in a snowstorm, and fortunately thought to set things up for the morning. This is when I realized I’d left my webcam at home; the built-in one on my MacBook is crap, not even good enough for normal Zooms, let alone TV.
I asked the front desk if they had one (no), I thought of texting my local friends (it was now 1 am, so no), I Googled what time Best Buy opened (10 am)… But Walmart (not my favorite place; I’m always worried there’ll be a gun section) opened at 7 am.
So at 7 am, I’m riding in an Uber that’s sliding all over the roads, making friends with the driver who, when not on the pickle ball circuit, spends half the year on the road with Phish, selling merch in the parking lot. He waited for me outside the Walmart because “you’re not gonna get another Uber out here; you’d be doing that interview from inside the Walmart.” By the time I got back to the car, he had downloaded my audiobook and was listening to it.
Back to the hotel room, shower, put on better clothes, set up the computer and the new camera on top of a garbage can, like so:
Between the tech check and my appearance, I had time to get packed for my midday trek to Boston. I tried to throw away the packaging from the webcam and was really ticked off to find that this hotel room somehow did not have a garbage can except the tiny one in the bathroom. Seriously, what kind of hotel doesn’t have a garba— oh.
(PS—my favorite segment of Good Morning Texas was when they went “And now for some celebrity gossip; it’s time to spill the GMTea!”)
Events so far have been amazing…
We’ve had great turnout (in really big theater/event spaces that I was worried about filling) and amazing questions.
Something I hadn’t anticipated: Since basically no one has read the book yet (I wouldn’t expect them to) almost everyone in the signing line wants to talk to me about The Great Believers. Which is lovely, because I felt a strange sense of betrayal being on tour for this book and sort of… leaving that one behind, even though I knew that wasn’t the case.
It’s a fucking emotional roller coaster…
When my first book came out, I was texting one of the few other authors I knew at the time, and he said (from experience) “It’s like drug addiction. You get a serotonin hit and then an hour later you’ve crashed down and normal feels like hell, and anything bad feels even worse.” Obviously he meant a much, much more benign and minor thing compared to actual addiction, but I understood right away what he was saying, because that’s what I felt like. It’s gotten a little better over the course of five books, but I’m still sort of upside down.
Also, it’s hilarious that the best review of your life in The New Yorker and a snarky comment on Goodreads from someone who didn’t get past page 50 can hold equal weight in your brain. How does that work, exactly?
Here are my events this week:
Meanwhile, my Chicago launch is tonight, and there’s a handful of tickets left if you’re interested.
More info on all the events is here… and note that if you can’t make it to anything in person, Monday is the big virtual one. I’m in convo with Julia Whelan, who is not only a wonderful author but also the actor who performs the audiobook.
Now I need to pack for 18 more days on the road in diverse climates with only a carry-on…
For real. There’s one day where I have to switch airlines in a small window of time, so absolutely no way I’m checking a bag.
Oh, I should have added: He goes "The pickle ball circuit was a lot easier when it was just old ladies playing. Now you got all these young athletes coming over from tennis. I don't win as much as I used to."
My preordered copy arrived yesterday in Switzerland 🥳 and I have put it aside for when I go on break in Portugal one week from tomorrow, like a special treat. Can’t wait!