Posts Tagged ‘Appearances’

San Mateo

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Okay, so I shouldn’t have angered the Travel Gods. This — with the exception of the event itself (see below) — was one horrible day. LAX was slow and mobbed, the plane ride featured babies or children fore and aft and sideways (including, as Barb so delicately put it, “poopie diapers”); the San Francisco airport was jammed with passengers awaiting delayed planes, the ride on the airport train was unpleasantly packed, and the room of car rental counters looked like Times Square on New Year’s Eve. The car we rented was a “free upgrade” because they were out of what we’d reserved — this was a Volvo model I knew nothing about with a radio that picked up nothing but foreign language talk shows. We were booked in a downtown San Fran hotel and found ourselves in a morass of cars, taxis, trolleys, buses, construction and detours. After an hour and forty-five minutes, we could never find the hotel. We called them and told them where we were (seemingly perhaps a few blocks away) but they couldn’t guide us there. They could, however, refuse to cancel our reservation. We hobbled to San Mateo, were fooled by a road sign that labeled East Third as West Third, sending us on a half hour wild goose chase. The book store folks (we stopped in around four) were great but advised us downtown San Mateo had no hotel. So we returned to the freeway, found a Doubletree hotel where we were charged top dollar for a “deluxe” room (no difference from any other standard room in similar hotels), had a lousy-even-for-a-hotel meal, wrestled with the parking lot requiring the hotel key (which it refused to recognize), then back to the bookstore.

The event, at least, was great. A nice turnout at M is For Mystery with some real fans who brought all kinds of stuff for us to sign — a nice fan named Mike even dragged along all the Dick Tracy IDW hardcovers for signatures! — and lots of BYE BYE, BABY and quite a few ANTIQUES KNOCK-OFF were sold. Barb gave a great Barbara Allan/ANTIQUES talk, and I was so tired, fried and loopy that I said lots of things in public that I shouldn’t have, which seemed to entertain the public.

Saturday morning (at 5 a.m.) we will be up and out, and with any luck headed back to Iowa, where East is East and West is West, and where only the farmers are up at 5 a.m.

M.A.C.

Los Angeles/Orange

Friday, August 26th, 2011

We were booked into a hotel in Beverly Hills, which is very swanky and great and everything, but Orange is fifty miles away. We had just enough time to swing up to Book Soup (one of the great bookstores anywhere) on Sunset to see what eclectic wonders were on display. Among the latter were two Hard Case Crime racks, with a lot of my stuff face out. In addition, they had copies of BYE BYE, BABY and KISS HER GOODBYE on their shelves. I introduced myself, and wound up dealing with several nice (and seemingly impressed) staffers who had me sign everything. This is about as hip a bookstore as mankind has yet produced, so I was pleased.

We freshened up at the hotel and hit the road — it took an hour and forty-five minutes to get to Orange in traffic that seemed otherworldly to mere Iowans. I was skeptical about Book Carnival, because it had been one of the really superior mystery bookstores but reflected the vision of its original owner, who passed away a while back. Surely the new owner couldn’t maintain that special vibe…but current owner Ann Saller has really pulled it off. The store is stocked with new books and tons of fantastic used books; lots of signed books like the Maureen Jennings “Murdoch” title I snagged for under $20. A clean, brightly-lit store filled with treasures. She served up food and drink for the capacity crowd, who brought tons of books for me to sign and just as many questions. Barb again presented “Barbara Allan” in a funny, real manner that got any number of ANTIQUES books sold, and we sold stacks of BYE BYE, BABY. The people were so nice and warm and knowledgeable, I thought I might be hallucinating.

I also learned that Brandi and Jerrod, my two favorite stars on my new favorite show, “Storage Wars,” have their thrift shop just down the street from Book Carnival. I did not get to stop in and brag about my pal Phil Dingeldein being the guy who shoots “Pickers” back in the Midwest…but maybe we can do a dual promo thing when the next Barbara Allan comes out — ANTIQUES DISPOSAL, dealing with storage-unit auctions!

Three bookstores in three days…and three home runs. Tomorrow: M IS FOR MYSTERY in San Mateo. I have never signed at a bookstore in the San Francisco area, so I am hopeful.

M.A.C.

San Diego

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

We arrived in San Diego to typically lovely weather, rented a car and drove straight to El Indio restaurant. I am a Guy Fieri/Diners, Drive-ins and Dives disciple and fully expected to be blown away…and wasn’t. We have much better Mexican food back in Muscatine (the guacamole was an outrage). We made up for it with a visit to Ghiradelli’s for hot fudge sundaes, normally a treat that occurs only on Comic Con visits.

Speaking of which, having visited San Diego for the Comic Con for countless years, seeing the exterior of the convention center populated by a handful of businessmen and not hordes of superheroes and zombies was weird. Ditto for the Gaslamp District. We only know San Diego as Comic Con-ville, and Barb and I felt like we’d wandered into one of those post-apocalyptic movies where only a handful of humans had survived.

The signing at Mysterious Galaxy went extremely well. We hadn’t been to this MG location and were mightily impressed by the mix of science-fiction. horror and mystery. What a great bookstore! Friendly, smart staff, too. We had a great turnout, and a group that appeared to have come for Heller got very interested in the ANTIQUES novels, because Barb presented herself and our series very, very well. Some Spillane interest, too. We just talked and took Q and A and had a delightful time.

A gentleman named Fred told us of a wonderful encounter with Mickey Spillane on the 1994 Comic Con trip that preceded Mickey coming to Muscatine with me for his role in my indie film, “Mommy.” Mickey was very, very sick, and I tried to talk him out of coming back for the shoot — we could bring him in at the end, I told him, after he’d recovered from a serious infection in his leg. Fred told a story of Mickey having to cut short an appearance promoting the MIKE DANGER comic book because of his illness, but then the next day (still sick!) recognizing Fred from the audience of the truncated appearance, and taking him aside for some personal time, signing Fred’s books. Typical Mick.

M.A.C.

Scottsdale

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

The first day of the book tour took us to the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Arizona, one of the great and most influential mystery bookstores. A well-attended discussion moderated by owner Barbara Peters with both myself and Barb plus historical thriller writer William Dietrich (nice guy!) can be viewed directly below:

We had a nice turnout and sold lots of books. We also signed store stock and you can order signed copies of ANTIQUES KNOCK-OFF here.

And BYE BYE, BABY here.

It’s beautiful in Scottsdale but incredibly hot — 116 degrees worth. This morning we toured Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s home/school, and it’s incredibly beautiful. You can’t really appreciate his work fully just from photographs. My favorite moment – spotting Ayn Rand’s ATLAS SHRUGGED in his bedroom library…but not THE FOUNTAINHEAD!

We are staying at Valley Ho, a hotel circa 1956 that looks it, in a good way. You expect to bump into the Rat Pack around every corner.

Next stop: San Diego.

M.A.C.