Cara was with me last week for a launch party at Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale so we sat by the pool, brainstorming about the pros and cons of touring together.
You'll notice it's a tough life. But I have to tell you it's not all a piece of cake. Book tours sound like such glamorous things. Flying from city to city. Limos, fancy hotels...
Cara flew in that morning from Minneapolis where it was -6 degrees. After our event at Poisoned Pen I took her to the airport where she was taking the red eye to JFK, two hour layover then flying to /Florida where she had to rush to a TV show and then speak at a dinner that evening. That's the glamorous life of the booktour.
Most of the time things go smoothly and we have a great time (if we get a moment to eat)
CARA: Remember two years ago when we didn't get time to eat and you missed dinner and had that low blood sugar scare and I thought you were having a stroke?
RHYS: I remember it well. It was hard to stay awake and focus and we had three events that day! Now I always take good munchies, just in case. But remember the time when you got no lunch?
CARA: When I spoke to the ladies at the synagogue in LA? Yes, they invited me to speak at their luncheon meeting. AND they all brought their lunches and ate them while I spoke, but didn't think of bringing anything for me. I was ravenous by three o'clock.
RHYS: I don't think this is really unusual. Some people regard the writer as the entertainment. I've had people invite me to come and speak saying "We can't pay you an honorarium but we will give you a free lunch." I want to reply "Do I look like a homeless person who needs feeding up?" So what adventures have we had that we can share?
CARA: Remember the earthquake last year? We were having dinner with the bookseller in Orange County after our event and suddenly the whole restaurant starts to shake. Lots of pretty china on shelves but none of it fell down.
RHYS: And that wasn't all. The next day we were both speaking at a big Sisters In Crime event nearby. I was at the podium when the shaking started again. I remember thinking "When am I allowed to flee for my life? Do I stand here while my audience rushes out of the room in panic? And there was a huge ceiling chandelier right over my head! Luckily it stopped before a Phantom of the Opera moment.
CARA: We meet so many lovely people.
RHYS: It always blows my mind when someone has come halfway across the country to see one of us. So humbling. But then there are the occasional weirdos who creep us out. Like the man who came to all 3 of my events once and then sat across from me in the restaurant at dinner.
CARA: And my stalker!
RHYS: You have a stalker?
CARA: Well, actually he's quite nice and harmless, I think, but definitely creepy. He wears one of those masks, for one thing. You know, to keep you from getting germs. He's been to my events in several cities and then he showed up in Paris with his mother. And kept trying to tell me about buying real estate in Paris.
RHYS: Yes, it's sometimes hard to define that line between too keen, too friendly and creepy. Remember our event in the nudist colony?
CARA: Naturalist resort, please. We are not making this up. Rhys and I did an event at a nudist colony. Only luckily it was a very cold day so most people were clothed.
RHYS: Except for the one guy who wore only a tiny backpack. And he walked back and forth in front of me while I was trying to talk to the audience. I felt like saying "I've seen bigger and better."
CARA: We have to be prepared for anything, I guess. Like the weather from Minneapolis to Scottsdale.
RHYS: It's hard to know what to pack, isn't it--except for you. You wear black and layer, no matter what! And hotels--when the publisher books them they are usually very glamorous. But we only get to enjoy them from 9:30 at night until 6 in the morning. When we book for ourselves, it's always a bit more iffy, isn't it?
CARA: Like the one you booked last year in San Diego?
RHYS: It looked all right online. And it was on the beach. And it wasn't cheap either.
CARA: But it was really crummy. Mildew. Coffee maker didn't work. No hot water and we needed to take showers before our event.
RHYS: Ah yes, I remember it well. And we're together at the Tucson Festival of Books this weekend and then heading back to Southern California on March 20. We have a really full schedule again that you can see on our websites. So let's hope things go smoothly this time.
So what are the advantages of touring with another person?
CARA: Sharing the driving. One person navigating through LA. Getting double the crowd and new readers.
RHYS: And having someone to talk and laugh with when things go wrong. That is so important.
CARA: The first time I did an event with you you wore a hat. I thought you might be a little strange.
RHYS: That was to promote Her Royal Spyness. Have you changed your mind since?
CARA: You put up with me slinking outside to smoke.
RHYS: I think we get along pretty well. And we know each other so well now that I sometimes start our events by saying "Bonjour, I am Cara Black and I write about Paris". I could do your whole spiel and you could do mine.
So you can see that we have fun, no matter what. If you're in Southern Cal or Tucson, come and see us.
Cara will be signing her new Aimee Leduc novel, Murder at the Champ de Mars
and I'll be signing my new Molly Murphy novel, The Edge of Dreams