Monday, November 2, 2009

"Off the Road, But Waiting for My Head to Return", by Reed Farrel Coleman

I’ve been back home for about ten days now after touring Tower for three weeks. Counting the launch party at Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Bookshop in Manhattan, I visited twelve cities, made twelve flights, went through security at LAX with the guy who used to play Ned on General Hospital, stayed in a lot of Fairfield Inns, one Courtyard Inn, one Sheraton, one Grand Hyatt, one Marriot Extended stay (for one night... it’s a mystery) and two friends’ houses. I did four events with other authors—one with Jason Pinter, one with Russell Hill, two with Michael Connelly—one stock signing, a literary salon, one Bouchercon panel, one awards ceremony (won the Shamus Award for Best PI Novel of 2008 for Empty Ever After), closed the B'con bar twice, ate some fantastic meals: Chicken fried steak and fried okra in Dallas with Harry Hunsicker, his lovely wife Alison, and Daniel J. Hale; pork chops, homemade mashed potatoes, homemade applesauce with Barbara Peters and her husband Chef Rob; best fajitas in the world in Plano. I ate in a few Denny’s and had a lot of crappy airport food as well. Fairfield Inns have swimming pools, but no restaurants. Go figure. Did you know they almost always put Fairfield Inns and Courtyard Inns right across from the other? Fairfield Inns are like the bottom of the Marriot food chain. I think they put the two in close proximity so that when guests at the Courtyard complain, the deskman points across the way and says, “It could be worse. You could be over there.” Truthfully, the Fairfield Inns were just fine and their employees were great to me. In fact, everybody was pretty great to me. The bookstores, their employees, the owners, the fans, even the ones that were there to see the other authors, were all great.

Touring can be lonely, so the memorable moments for me usually have to do with the folks who rescue you from the loneliness. Whether it’s a breakfast in Denver with PIs Colleen and Shaun who tell hysterically funny stories and take pictures of you signing your books with expensive fountain pens for a fountain pen website & blog or a tour of Twist Phelan’s beautiful new town house or a walk around the Berkeley Marina with Simon Wood or an afternoon of watching football with Ralph Pezzullo or going to Dealey Plaza and the 6th Floor Museum with Harry Hunsicker and Dan Hale or a sharing a beer with David Hansard in Austin, they’re all moments of grace. The worst moments were the moments of disorientation (Where am I? Shit, I’m late.) and trying to find Mad Men in hotels that don’t have AMC on their cable set-ups. And not for nothing, I love sports and the news as much as the next guy, but could hotels please put something on their TVs other than fifty ESPN channels and CNN, Fox, MSNBC…

So, like I said, I’ve been home a while now. It’s been great, but I still have those occasional moments of road disorientation like when I wake up in the morning and think about what time the blue Super Shuttle van is coming to collect me.


Reed Farrel Coleman is the three-time Shamus Award-winning author of the Moe Prager P.I. novels (the first three of which are published by BFP) and co-author (with Ken Bruen) of BFP's Tower. Visit his website here.

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