Home at last.
After twenty-eight days on the road, with fifteen events stretching from New York City in the East to San Francisco in the West, I’m both exhausted from all the travel and grateful for the scores of folks who showed up to chat and to buy signed copies of my new Mulligan crime novel, Providence Rag.
The tour kicked off with a book release party at Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Bookshop in Manhattan. Fellow novelists Reed Farrel Coleman and Larry Light attended to lend their support to a fellow writer. And I got the chance to catch up with some old friends including Robert Naylor, who’d been a treasured colleague at The Associated Press.
At San Francisco’s Borderland Books, a high school girlfriend, Peggi (Simmons) Jewett, dropped by and let me take her out to dinner afterwards. And at Readmore Books in Taunton, MA, another old girlfriend, Mary Lou Harwood, was among a contingent of schoolmates from Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High.
More old pals, including high school chums Andrew Jennings and Stephen Parisi, for whom characters in the novel are named, joined the lively crowd at the Providence Public Library; and the next day Steve and I got to catch up over a great meal at Andino’s, one of the city’s finest Italian restaurants.
At The Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, AZ, I was surprised by two old Hartford Courant colleagues, Dan Harr and Mike Kodas. Afterwards we commiserated about the sad state of the news business over drinks at a local watering hole.
In California, Steve Vessels, a fine writer I first got to know at the Abroad Writers Conference in Ireland last December, didn’t just show up at the event at Book Carnival in Orange. He picked me up at LAX, drove me to the event, and later joined me for dinner.
At Houston’s Murder by the Book, the crowed included Kit Frieden, a great editor who once worked for me at The Associated Press; her husband Phil Shook, an outstanding outdoor writer; and John Egan, who starred for the Providence College Friars before going on to a twelve-year NBA basketball career. Afterward, the four of us shared a fine meal together.
Helen O’Neill, a great writer who once worked for me at The Associated Press, showed up at Bank Square Books in Mystic, CT, for a signed book and a long conversation. And another talented former Associated Press colleague, Todd Lewan, now a budding crime novelist, joined me at Murder on the Beach in Delray Beach, FL., and for an after-event evening of food, drink, and girl-watching.
Mid-tour, I got a bit of a break from travelling by spending four days at Left Coast Crime, a conference that attracted about 800 crime fiction fans to Monterey, CA. Thanks to my publisher, 175
of them got free copies of Providence Rag in their conference kits. There, I got to catch up with a bunch of crime-novelist pals including Tim Hallinan, Brad Parks, Lee Goldberg, and Gar Anthony Haywood–and to meet some of the giants in the field including Marcia Muller and Sue Grafton. And old friend Garland Thompson, a poet and actor, saved me some bucks by putting me up for a few days. Even better, I got to watch him perform in a production of The Three Penny Opera.
With three book tours under my belt, I’ve learned that the most important thing about them is the opportunity to develop relationships with independent booksellers who,
if they like your books, make a point of recommending them to their customers. I’m deeply grateful to the proprietors and staffs of The Mysterious Bookshop in Manhattan; Once Upon a Crime in Minneapolis; The Seattle Mystery Bookshop; Borderland Books in San Francisco; Book Carnival in Orange, CA; The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, AZ; Book People in Austin; Murder by the Book in Houston; Murder on the Beach in Delray Beach, FL; Readmore Books in Taunton, MA; and Bank Square Books in Mystic, Ct.
Nearly all of these stores had orders for signed copies – up to 40 in several cases – before I even arrived. And I was thrilled that all three of my Mulligan novels were listed as “staff picks” on the shelves of Book People in Austin.
I’m also grateful to the Providence Public Library and the Maury Loontjens Memorial Library in Narragansett, R.I., where the crowds were the largest. And my thanks, too, to former Providence Mayor Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci for the guest spot on his WPRO-radio show–and to all the other print, online, and radio journalists who provided coverage along the way.
Most of all, I must thank my publisher, Forge, a division of Macmillian, for sending me on this coast-to-coast tour. These days, publisher-funded book tours are relatively rare, so I’m lucky that the powers that be there are showing so much faith in my new book.
I hope you buy a copy of Providence Rag from an independent bookseller. You can locate one near you by clicking here, and many of them take orders online. If that’s not convenient for you, hardcover, e-book, and audio editions can also be purchased here.