Friday, September 22, 2006

HARROWING Tour, Week Two

Unbelievable. I have one whole day today that I don't have to be anywhere. I don't have to drive. I don't have to go to any bookstores. I don't have to go through airport security twice at five a.m. because of that new bottle of Allure I forgot I had in my purse.

I have 888 (no lie) unanswered e mails in my inbox, but hey, I get to sit down to do it, right?

I'm going to try to recap the week, because at this rate if I don't make notes on it I'm not going to remember a single thing by mid-next week. (Blogs really do force you to journal - it's probably their best quality.)

So, last weekend, Sept. 15 & 16 was Killer Nashville - a brand new conference sponsored by MWA and put together practically singlehandedly on the Nashville side by the tireless Clay Stafford, with NY support from MWA goddess Margery Flax. I did my first half-hour TV interview with a local Nashville legend, John Seigenthaler, A WORD ON WORDS. It really was one of those Masterpiece Theater, two-armchairs-in-a-fake-book-lined-study interviews - something I never could have imagined myself doing. The lights went on for the taping and I had a moment of thinking - "This is one of those actor dreams, right? Only instead of being on stage and not knowing my lines, I'm supposed to have written a book and I don't know what it's about, and in a moment I'm going to realize I'm naked on top of everything else."

But it went amazingly well - John is a witty and graceful host and actually knew the book better than I do at this point. The producers loved the spot and asked me back next year for THE PRICE.

Then on to three panels and three signings. The whole conference was Southern authors, except for me, the new Southern half-transplant, and Reed Farrel Coleman, representing MWA and as much a fish out of water as I was, with that sexy gravelly Brooklyn accent of his.

My first panel was with Kathy Wall, Gwen Hunter and Mary Soams. All SO lovely and Southern (even though Kathy is a transplant, too, she fakes it a whole hell of a lot better than I do.). Now, I have this habit of balancing social situations. If people around me are talkers, I become the avid listener. If people are shy, I step up and entertain. So with all these Southerners around me, I became more and more Valley Girl as the panel went on. I could see myself doing it, but I couldn't stop myself. I'm sure a few attendees thought I was the flake of the universe, but mostly people were laughing, and we ended up having a good time.

I then had the great pleasure of going out on the town with the always entertaining JT Ellison and her adorable husband Randy. We went to a very LA new restaurant, Radius 10 - industrial chic, with about three dozen songwriters at the bar; then to a fantastic jazz club, Sambuca, very Gothic, really, red carpet and walls and shiny gauzy curtains and black leather couches and all these intimate little nooks and a great deck overlooking downtown and onstage a simply superb jazz combo, all my favorites - Hallelujah I Just Love Her So, Alabama Morning, some Marvin Gaye... just a wonderful evening, and so nice to get to know JT (and score her book, which I can't wait to land in one place long enough to read).

Saturday, more panels, always depressing to talk about screenwriting (!), then a fantastic closing reception at Landmark Books in Franklin - one of those bookstores (in an historic building in a very historic downtown) you just want to LIVE in. I found the most amazing prints from 1880 - absolutely haunted - as the bookstore itself is, apparently! Need to spend some quality time in Franklin, I think, and just see who or what materializes.

Then jumped a plane for L.A. at six fucking a.m., to arrive at 11 PST and drive (with minutes to spare) to my first signing at the West Hollywood Book Fair. This really was cutting it close and I don't recommend that kind of ridiculously tight scheduling - the stress level is not worth it. But it was home turf and I could drive it in my sleep (which, yeah, actually, I did.)

WeHo was HOT. I mean, Santa Ana, Southern California wildfire season HOT. People were staggering around in a dazed sweat. The festival was bigger than I'd been led to expect, so I was very pleased at my sales at Dark Delicacies and Sisters in Crime, and more people turned out for the Mysterious Galaxy panel than I would have thought, considering the place was a furnace by 4 pm. Old home day all the way around - I caught a quick picnic lunch with a bunch of my Berkeley college friends (SO nice, these random meetings...) had brief encounters with some WriterActioners and some new author friends, the lovely and talented Naomi Hirahara, Brett Battles, Sue Ann Jaffarian (okay, I can't start this list or we'll be here all day) and caught up with Killer Thriller Band producer Bob Levinson and my sister Killerette Harley Jane Kozak. All way too short.

And you know what? Raleigh has many fine qualities, but I really, REALLY miss the cross-dressing.

Cocktail party at dusk at the Blue Whale (the Pacific Design Center, a monument to LA opulence) where I got to reminisce with my former boss from the Bodhi Tree, Stan Madsen, and the real force and heart of the store, Neisha, and also got a great shot of inspiration from the NOW and WriteGirl sponsors of the party. That's right - I ankled the screenwriting gig so I could WRITE STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS without tampering. Really nice to be reminded of the mission.

Whew. That was just three days. A whole week to go. Think I'll take a break and... answer more e mails.


Christopher Chambers said...

Amazing whirlwind tour! Enough to get somebody (1)hooked on Vicodin or (2) cold turkey from Vicodin. If you see Gwen Hunter again tell her Chris said hi and yes, I'm sorry to say I'm glad to be back home in DC and away from NASCAR-ville. Be sure to check out my blog and THE DARKER MASK (hint hint...)

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

If only Vicodin did anything for me.

Since you mention it (hint, hint) - Gary was at WeHo and mentioned a contract that had been e mailed? I didn't get it, myself...

Brett Battles said...

It was great to see you on Sunday...even if briefly. Can't wait to read THE HARROWING now that I have my signed copied!

Anonymous said...

Wow, Alex, what a tour! I'm exhausted just reading about it. By the way, there are cross dressers here, but they're genteel southern crossdressers. You'll have to be more alert!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for coming to our cocktail party and taking time to answer all the questions. I love your site.

JT Ellison said...

Alex, Randy and I loved having you, and can't wait for your return to Nashville. Your description of our fair town was great. We had a great time and can't wait to do it again. Enjoy the rest of your tour!
xx, JT

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Brett, likewise! We'll have more time to party at Bouchercon. Plus, there will be AC.

Yeah, Diane, it's pretty intense. But if I weren't stressing about the tour I'd be stressing about either THE PRICE or my new one - I never take enough time off before rereading a draft so this is an enforced break. My mind will be a total blank slate by the time I pick up the book again. I've got to think that's good.

Hey Eileen! I'll be checking out your blog - congratulations on the DEBut.

JT - I already miss you! XX