One of the aspects of book touring I’ve enjoyed most is meeting other authors. Some of us are fascinating, humble, delightful individuals. Some of us are boring, self-congratulatory knuckleheads. Sort of like the general population, actually.
No, I’m not naming names. But I will say I’ve mostly met the former. And I’ll tell you some stories.
Three weeks ago in Portland at Homeword Bound, I sat between Bart King, utterly hilarious and charming author of The Book of Mischief and The Book of Fun, and author of The Varmits Ted Coonfield who bought me a drink and kept demurring to tell me stories about sex, drugs and rock and roll from his riotous youth until he saw “sex, drugs and camping” on the back of my book Chance of Sun. Then the gloves were off.
During the key note presentation by the very famous Oregon author Jean Auel, Bart borrowed my pen and then passed me a note. That alone was thrilling as I haven’t received a note in years. Then I found myself stifling a full-on guffaw at what Bart’s note read: “Have you read her stuff? My friend says its cave porn.”
I wrote back: “Apparently cave porn sells.”
Two weeks ago I sat with William Sullivan (author of seven books on hiking the Oregon outdoors), Laurie Notaro (NY Times bestselling author of hilarious books like I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies)), and Ken Babbs (author and former member of Ken Kesey’s Band of Merry Pranksters) at the UO Duckstore.
It kind of went like this.
When Ken left for a minute, Bill leaned over and said, “Wow, you can really notice the impact of all the drugs that guy did.” Then Laurie told us a story about planting peas the day before and then scurrying around in the yard in her pajamas that morning trying to cover them up when the rain turned to hail turned to hurricane force winds. At which point Bill politely excused himself to go and pick up his grandchild’s turtle which had been sedated to have its toenails clipped. Luckily, the reigning Slug Queen Holly GoSlugly came by at that moment so I still had someone to talk to.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Last weekend at the Atkinson Church Book and Author Fair, I met Jon Bell, Oregon author of the book “On Mount Hood: A Biography of Oregon’s Perilous Peak“. We got to chatting about the stuff of writers: fame, fortune, our homes overflowing with fan mail and roses, so many six-digit book deals we have to turn some down.
Oh wait. That was a dream I had the night before.
Jon told me that when he first thought to write a book about Oregon’s most iconic peak, he was a furniture delivery man. When he finally got a contract to write said book years later, it was about two days after his second child was born and he had six months to write the book.
Now that’s a real writer’s life.
I shared some photos with Jon of my grandmother on top Mt. Hood in 1938. I’ve written about her summiting the mountain in an essay and a chapter from Chance of Sun. He used them in his blog today.
The anniversary of the publication of “Day Trips From Portland” is next week. This is what I know about the last year and book touring. I have become rich in stories, experience and new friends. And that’s worth a hell of a lot more than a room full of roses.