Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Glamorous Life

Wake up feeling a bit groggy. Last night I spoke at a booksellers' conference and then stayed up until 1.45am talking about books and stuff. I don't often get the chance to talk to so many booksellers at once, so it was a rare pleasure. Unfortunately, I'm paying for it this morning, even though I only had a couple of beers. In addition, it's only two days into the tour and my voice appears to be going. I sound like a fog gargling gravel.

Start driving from Bristol to Brighton, which is quite a long way. I prefer to drive myself rather than use a chauffeur, mainly because I like my own company, my own music, and I'll spend much of the day talking to people so it's nice to have somewhere quiet to which to retire, even if that somewhere quite is hammering down a motorway at 80mph. No breakfast, as the hotel hadn't started serving it by the time I had to leave - not that I'm a big breakfast person anyway, but a cup of decaff wouldn't have hurt.

Arrive in Brigton to sign books for some dealers. The dealers have always been very supportive of me, so I don't mind making the effort for them. Am offered a cup of coffee, but there's not much point when I'm signing as it will either go cold or get spilled all over their books.

Arrive at the wholesalers in Eastbourne. More signing, and again I refuse a cup of coffee for the reasons stated above. I've become a pretty fast signer, and my signature remains fairly consistent, or at least it still looks vaguely like a real signature when I'm signing the last copy. I was once given a signed copy of James Ellroy's My Dark Places, on which the signature consisted of a single vertical line about one inch long. Cheers, James! One to treasure . . .

Find myself in the wrong town, for various reasons. (This doesn't happen very often, I'm happy to say.) Already running late, despite my best efforts, so give up and have a cup of coffee with a bookseller in her store. She's one of my favourite people, a really lovely person and a great bookseller, but she informs me that her store is about to close. She really wants to stay in bookselling, and I feel immensely sorry for her. (If anyone in London or points south needs a great bookseller, get in touch with us, please! I'm sure we can find a suitable way to thank you.)

Still feeling very sad for my fave bookseller. Begin driving to where I'm actually supposed to be, which is another wholesaler's premises further west. Sign more books, chat, meet some nice managers. Everyone seems a little puzzled so far by the new book, and I can tell there's a certain amount of caution about it. Nevertheless, they're supporting it, for which I'm grateful.

Hellish drive into the centre of Brighton to sign shop stock. Turns out that the toilets have leaked in the bookstore, and assorted noxious things are threatening to drip through to the ground floor, so the staff are a little distracted. Sign quickly and leave. Still haven't eaten today, and starting to feel a little tired. Schedule now entirely gone to pot.

Begin driving. Realise that I'm not going to make Southampton before the bookstores there close, so call the lovely, tolerant publicist to ask her to make my apologies. Get caught in roadworks and traffic jams. Now very tired, and very hungry.

Make it to Eastbourne just in time to park my car in the world's most expensive car park and race to the bookstore.

Arrive at Borders bookstore in Bournemouth. Small but enthusiastic crowd, and a very kind bookseller. Start talking, only to find that my voice really is shot. Persevere. Someone gives me her phone number and asks me to call her, which is very odd. I don't, needless to say. That's a little beyond the call of duty.

Check into my hotel, which is full of rather elderly people. Wash teeth, then walk back into city centre and find a bar that is showing the PSV Eindhoven v Liverpool match. Have a glass of wine. Liverpool don't get beaten, which is about the best that one can say about the match.

Find Mexican restaurant. Order first meal of the day, only to find that I'm so hungry my stomach seems to fill up after a couple of bites, or maybe I'm just so tired that I can't eat. Walk back to my hotel and collapse into bed.

Wake up. Shower. Start driving . . .

Recently John read

The Religion by Tim Willocks (finished it at last - yay!)
Christina Falls by Benjamin Black

and listened to

5.55 by Charlotte Gainsbourg


Jayne said...

I'm sure I speak on behalf of all your fans, John, when I say that the effort you put into your tours is very much appreciated. I know how far apart some of these English towns and cities are, and that you can be at one end of the country one day and the opposite end the next day.

I don't think there are many authors who would put in as much effort to meet their readers as what you do, so thank you!

Oh, and best of luck to Liverpool against Galatasaray next week. I'll be cheering the Reds on and I'll even join in when the fans start singing "Fields of Anfield Road".

Just don't tell the Leeds supporters...

John R. said...

A visit to Eastbourne? You poor, poor bloke.

Yoomi said...


That sounds like utter madness: a lot of moving, not enough food or coffee, and it seems to be one of those days that just didn't seem to end.

I know that with many of my favourite authors, I really appreciate it when I get to speak to these writers I really admire so I'm sure that your packed schedule is very much appreciated :)