Book Tour! A time for writers and readers.
On February 6th I left home for my very first book tour, and for the next two and half weeks I visited 13 cities to talk about and sign Swiss Vendetta. I had an idea of what to expect. I have public speaking experience from my former job in the non-profit world and with university alumni relations. The latter required travel and sometimes Q&A in a different city every night. From this, I was prepared for the daily cycle of fatigue and even random thoughts along the lines of – why did I say yes to this? At the same time, I anticipated the jolt of energy that arrived every time I stepped in front of the crowd or sat at the signing table. In this, I wasn’t disappointed. There were a few surprises. The first one is a slightly embarrassing: that people had read Swiss Vendetta. To give me some credit, the night of my first stop coincided with the day of the book’s release. It was impossible for anyone other than a beta reader or recipient of an advance copy to have read it. I got used to that rhythm. The questions were about my background, why I started to write, did I always know I wanted to write mysteries. A few days into the tour, the story changed. A man raised his hand, not for a question, but with a statement: I loved this line from the book, “The young are foolish. But foolish doesn’t mean you deserve to die.” For a second I didn’t know what to say. Was the nice man a plant, someone sent by my mother to make me feel good? How could he know what was in the book? Fortunately, I relied on the old standby of Thank you, which bought me a moment to realize he’d read the Swiss Vendetta and had an opinion. However, in that first half second it was a little like what it must feel like to meet a stranger who holds up a photograph and says, Hi, I’m your here-to-fore unknown brother. Very personal and unsettling and then exciting and also a step into uncharted territory. From this point forward I had the great pleasure to meet readers – many people who had read the book and wanted to talk about characters and setting and plot points and favorite lines. Each and every one of them gave me a tiny moment of joy (even the man who had a complicated question about a character entering a place and leaving and then reentering). It was a pleasure to talk about the second in the series – A Well-Timed Murder – and to speculate about a third. I had another entirely pleasant surprise near the end of my time on the road. In reading emails from readers who had a thought to share, and some who said that they wished they could come to a signing but work prevented it, there was one from a very nice woman who had heard my book recommended by an author at his own book signing. I have always felt a comradery among writers (at least in the mystery and suspense genre) but the idea that we are out there in the world celebrating each other was such a pleasant experience. I arrived home exhausted. There is a rhythm on the road that keeps you going and when the rhythm breaks you feel the fatigue of travel and of ‘being on’ every afternoon or evening. At the same time, I can’t wait to go out there again. Apart from actually writing, talking about writing and reading is pure joy. Thank you readers who turned out and made these weeks unforgettable! As a reader, what do you look forward to at a book talk and signing? Authors, what’s been your experience meeting your readers?