Wednesday, November 01, 2006

HARROWING tour, week 8: The Leaves Change

I had events all oer North Carolina last week and it was just thrilling to hit the road, and discover the leaves were changing (I'm from California, right? This whole season thing is SURREAL...) It was such a clear week, and I drove from Raleigh to Charlotte to Gastonia to Salisbury amidst green with blazes of gold, amber, magenta, saffron, the brightest oranges… it must make people giddy, seriously – it did me.

I very much enjoyed my readings and signings at Park Road Books, the Literary Book Post, the Gaston County Library – and the media interviews went smashingly – I’ve hit my stride and don’t even really need to prepare for them any more, except of course for reciting Hamlet’s Speech To The Players to warm up. Because, you know, it just works. And I’m enjoying the different questions and observations that come up in each interview – you actually do learn more about your writing, doing all this.

Then it all got even better. I drove to Wilmington for the Cape Fear Crime Festival. Now, this took some maneuvering. In some explicable scheduling glitch, I had a signing in Salisbury on Thursday, had to drive four hours to Wilmington that night so I could be up at 5 am for a 6 am TV interview, then had my first panel at Cape Fear – “What’s it like to be a New Author?”, moderated by the massively fun Jesse Kellerman (who had my life in theater, I felt like I was seeing my life flash before my eyes, listening to him…)

Then I had to drive two and a half hours back to Fayetteville for a signing there. Madness – but I got it all done. I don’t THINK I have any more days quite that crazy coming up. I truly hope not.

I walked out of the Fayetteville signing (Books a Million) and it was pouring. Really, a gale. I had some insane thought of trying to get back to Wilmington anyway, because I had a 9:30 am reading – but as soon as I hit the freeway it was quite clear to me that I could actually die out there on the road (this state is so DARK…) You just don’t take your chances in a city everyone calls “Fatalburg.”

So I opted for the first hotel I saw.

That weird trip to Fayetteville was worth its weight in gold, though, because I met two really lovely bookstore clerks, Ashley and Bryan, and we had a rambling existential conversation about ghosts and psychic phenomena (Ashley is one hell of a psychic…) and the whole encounter reminded me of a seed of an idea that I thought might just work as my story for THE DARKER MASK anthology, due December 8, eeek!

THE DARKER MASK is something I said yes to, caught up in Chris Chambers’ and Gary Phillips and Reed Farrel Coleman’s and Walter Mosley's enthusiasm, and the sheer honor of being asked - without really considering that I’ve never written a short story in my life and I don’t have the slightest clue how to go about it. It’s a whole different animal than scripts or plays or novels – baffling.

I’d actually called Chris in a panic last week, saying I just didn't think I could do it with my tour lasting until late in November – but that night I sent that idea into whatever subconscious cooker exists – you know - down there - and hoped for the best.

Being a writer is ALL about hoping for the best.

I'll keep you posted.


JA Konrath said...

A short story is like a novel, only shorter.

Hope that helps. :)

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

My God, man, that's brilliant! I see it all so clearly, now.

I'll get straight on it.

Anonymous said...

You and Joe have exhausted me!

How was the Cape Fear conference (uh, in between your roadtrips)? I'd like to get to one.


billie said...

Finished your book and loved the read!

This autumn blaze of color is mostly why I had to come back from California. I get into a state of trance/torpor in the heat, and *something* has to wake me up out of that. The changing leaves here, the brilliant color, does it.

Those Santa Anas in LA were pretty intense too, but not what I grew up with, I guess, so not quite enough to get the creative juices flowing. November is generally my most productive writing month of the year. I've not set any records these first few days, but the fact that I'm up at midnight blogging madly while eating double chocolate-covered peanuts definitely means SOMETHING is up. :)

Send up the flag when you're ready for the end of tour dinner!