Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Rhys and Cara's Marvelous Adventureut

RHYS: Cara Black and I have a new book released on the same day every March so it has made a lot of sense to do some touring together. (The publishers don't seem to get the idea that touring together could be beneficial but we set up our own).

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...
reality check:
 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


  1. You ladies do make it sound like fun and I chuckled over some of your stories. But I shuddered over the coffeemaker not working . . . .

  2. Stories from the road always make me laugh and shake my head at the same time. Thanks for sharing, both of you.

  3. You two crack me up. I have to admit I've never been asked to speak to "naturists" (hope I don't) and Cara, your guy with the germ mask sounds really creepy.

    Love knowing someone else understands how "glamorous" book tours really are:-)

  4. The germ mask guy definitely creeps me out. I'm asking myself if he REALLY needs it for that purpose or if he's trying to disguise himself. Is he a criminal on the lam, for instance? (Perhaps I read too many mysteries. Nah, there's no such thing as "too many", and thanks to Rhys, Cara, all the Reds and the Reds Writing friends I won't run out of mysteries to read.)

  5. These stories crack me up. I can totally see the guy at the naturalist place - what a hoot. If the plan includes coming anywhere near Pittsburgh, let me know.

  6. Such fun Rhys and Cara--thanks for sharing! Love how Cara thought you and your hat might be strange:). I love going with someone else--it makes the bumps in the road less bumpy...

    I had an earthquake event too. It's all on tape. I'm yickety-yakking along for minutes, thinking there's a train going by outside. Then I finally get it--an earthquake, in Maine!

  7. Oh, dear. Rhys and Cara, on the road. What an entertaining show that would be!

    Isn't it best, to travel with a pal? I spent 15 years traveling around the US for business and public speaking, but would never have gotten started if my best friend (also named Karen) had not wanted to do the same thing at the same time. We had great road stories, too.

    One of the best/worst, depending on your viewpoint, was the Halloween night in a Detroit suburb, at our very first gig. Two men had rooms across the hall from us, and for most of the night a prostitute kept going from room to room, with lots of yelling and laughing. The yelling got a LOT louder when they finally stopped letting her into their rooms--and decided not to pay her. I was also having the flu at the time, which didn't help things a bit, as you can imagine.

    Another time, Karen, who is 6'2" and at the time weighed over 200 pounds, found that one of the three outfits she'd brought was full of moth holes. Finding her something to wear for our three-day gig (with all the same people, so she couldn't just wear the same thing again) was a trip.

    The very best part of our travels, and I bet you and Cara have the same experience, was the point in every trip where we ended up laughing uncontrollably about some aspect of the experience. I don't think I've ever laughed as much as when we had our travel adventures together.

  8. It sounds like a great plan -- on a human level, on a business level, and for the lucky readers who get to see you both. Publishers, take notes!

  9. Honestly, how short-sighted can publishers be? The more authors, the merrier!! And road trips are always more fun when there's someone to share the good, the bad, and the ugly!

    Reading "The Edge of Dreams" right now & waiting to get my hands on Cara's latest!

    And, Cara, have to say, I'm in the camp where the guy in the mask definitely falls into the 'creepy' camp--he followed you all the way to Paris?? With his mother?? Seriously creepy.

  10. Karen, we can't beat the prostitute and the shouting! And the lack of outfits.
    Now that is really stressful.

    I once spilled hot coffee all over my leather jacket and white shirt right before an event. I was so scared it would ruin the leather I kept sponging it from the fountain in the courtyard and saved it. But now I travel with extra white shirt, extra black pants, just in case.

  11. Rhys, I had my first hot flash with Karen, on our way home from a speaking gig in St. Louis. We laughed for twenty miles, it was so hysterically funny.

    Coffee stains on a white blouse! Yikes. One road rule: always travel with a Tide pen. And make sure it's not dried out before you leave the house. They have saved my bacon a million times. Failing that, a scarf to cover the worst of it.

  12. As a bookseller I always prefer an author "gang" over a single - adds to the fun! Cara & Rhys, you have each provided some of my very favorite author events, thank you!

  13. You two are so GLAM and so fabulous! I Isn't it hilarious what happens on the road? But you two are such a wonderful team.. Irresistible!

  14. Thanks for the reminder of the Tide stick, Karen. Will definitely pack that today in case Rhys spills again. Yes, my face mask germy stalker takes the strange award, he's harmless enough. Robin, you know we love visiting you x

  15. I think you should have spoken to the man parading in front of you while you spoke at the nudist colony.
    I heard a marvelous story some years ago. A man flashed a woman on the street. She stopped, looked him carefully up and down, and then said, "If I were you, I'd be embarrassed to take that out in public." He, supposedly, quickly shut his coat and left.

  16. You two are a hoot! The nudist community story cracked me up, but the guy in the medical mask was a bit creepy, especially when he showed up in Paris. First impressions are always interesting, aren't they? Did you answer Rhys' question, Cara, about whether or not you still thought she's strange? Hehehe!

    Speaking of first impressions, when I went away to college, I took the luck-of-the-draw roommate route, not knowing her in advance. When I moved my belongings into the dorm room, the roommate was not there, but her stuff was. In one box, a bottle of liquor could be seen sticking out, and I remember my mother being concerned about it. I also wondered whether I had gotten a hard-drinking, party girl. Like a good girl from small town USA, I took along my Bible to college. (Never mind how little I consulted itl) I wasn't exactly a religious enthusiast. At a later date, after my roommate, who was wonderful, and I got to know each other, we laughed about the first impression our belongings gave. She thought I might be a Bible-thumping crusader, and I thought she might be the quintessential party girl. So, like the relationship between you, Rhys, and you, Cara, the relationship with my roommate served to be quite advantageous and fun.

  17. It's so much more fun to travel with a gal pal. Life is just easier.

  18. You two are having way took much fun.....

    Karen, Tide stick, check -- fantastic tip.

  19. I don't know why, but I envisioned this as a fabulous reality TV show, following 2 terrific authors on tour around the country. It would definitely be an eye-opener for lots of people. Some of your adventures made me laugh out loud. Thanks for sharing!