Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Tour (Part I) - New York

Mes Amis

Unless you've been following me on Twitter, you'll doubtless be wondering how the These Aye Mean Streets Tour of America went down as your humble, beardy Scottish hero hit the shores of the US with the strength of... well, something pretty damn strong*

It was a long and very packed trip, so I've divided it into sections by city/event for the purposes of posting. But I'll try and give you some flavour of what happened, culminating, mais naturellement, in the excesses of Bouchercon '10.

But it was the week before Bouchercon, I started my US tour. Knowing how jetlag can be, I started in NYC, where I had no events planned other than a drop to the Mysterious where, if they had any books, I'd do an unnoficial signing.

Which brings me on to another thing.

Thank you to my US readers who seem to have devoured the first print run of THE GOOD SON. Starting at the Mysterious and continuing on, it seemed no one was able to get their grubby mitts on a copy of TGS in first edition. Yes, we have sold out my friends. But let's not stop there. Let's sell out print run number 2, and maybe number 3 if we can. After all, you do want me to come back to your shores, don't you?

So when I hit Mysterious on day 2 in the US, they had been unable to get any 1sts or 2nds, but they were so damn kind to me anyway I will be heading back if I ever return to teh area (and no doubt I will, I love New York).

During my time in NYC, I divided up the days to hit different areas. Day 1 was Manhattan since I was going to meet my published for lunch. I spent the morning getting my bearings. Hitting up Grand Central where I went to the first bookshop I ever encountered in NYC, the brilliant Posmans Books. I maybe should have told 'em I was coming, but I was there as a customer more than anything. However, the lass who served me was so beautifully enthusiastic about Charlie Huston, I had to play the shill and pass over one of me cards. Apparently that quote from John Connolly convinced her more than anything the book needed to be looked at. See, folks, this is why I love bookstores; the buyers are true enthusiasts, and the best ambassadors for your books. Nothing beats good old human enthusiasm.

After Grand Central, I hit the NY Public Library where I hoped to get a few shots of the lions and that brilliant exterior. Except the front is under reconstruction. So I got a nice shot of covered scaffolding.

Much of the first day was spent in Manhattan and the Flatiron District. I went to meet my editor at St M's for lunch, but ended up making plans for dinner instead after circumstancews were a bit awry. Not my fault for once. However, this did mean I wound up having slices for lunch at Original Rays a few blocks away as the heavens opened and NYC experienced a Dundee-style downpour. The afternoon saw me abandon my plans for central park and head instead to see the inside of the Public Library. Its a stunning building inside, and its current photographic exhibition is fascinating, images of ordinary folks across the states, slices of everyday life that summed up the myth of America for me.

That evening, I met my editor (and by the way that pic of the flatiron shows you where my publishers have their offices - yes, that is the Daily Bugle building in the Spidey movies) for dinner at the wonderful Mari Vanna restaurant. I've never had Russian cuisine before, but trust me, I was deeply satisfied here with both the food and the brilliant service from our lovely waitress who seemed delighted to have a Scotsman in the house (apparently her family emigrated here a few years ago). I was hugely impressed with the Russian Beers, too (I put my life in our waitresses hands when it came to the booze - a very wise decision!). But it was the experimenting with Vodka that may have had something to do with the final end to this evening.

You see, I was spending my time in New York being sheltered by the one of the best authors you should be reading, Charlie Stella and his wonderful wife, Anne Marie. And that evening I had agreed to meet them at a certain point in the city. Unfortunately I got confused and believed our meeting point was near the Staten Island ferry. When I realised it wasn't, I got directions from a cop (in a donut shop, no less!) to what later turned out to be the wrong address anyway. Not that it mattered. Some hurried phone calls later, we agreed I should turn back for the ferry and we'd meet there. Suffice to say, Charlie didn't make any fun of me for this faux-pas at all.

Day 2 was spent almost entirely downtown. I fell in love with Battery Park, despite the touristy settings and refused to pay $20 to see that statue of Liberty (I'm a fifer and a natural cheapskate). Instead I got lost (again) searching for the Mysterious and delighted in finding the hidden parks and walking around the finanical district. Lots of walking today and just admiring the city. Also more slices for lunch. But you expected that, didn't you? The guy sitting next to me at the counter tried to educate me on American sports, specifically football. Have to say, though, its still confusing all all hell to me.

Day 3 found me finally making Central Park. Don't know how, on the last two visits to the city, I couldn't find it. But was worth the wait. I just walked in and forgot the city existed. Spent some time watching the sea lions and then just walking the park. I walked into the midst of a shoot for some (I presume) sitcom called "The Royal Pains" which sounded terrible, but it was pretty cool to have be escorted out of the way of filming.

I also located the reservoir so I could take some shots of where Marathon Man was filmed and then found myself in the real rich area of the city where I found brilliant indy bookstore, Crawford Doyle on Madison Ave. Some very nice folks in there, who seemed very excited at the idea of Dundee "like the Cake". I didn't spoil their illusions of our local culinary contributions.

Back to the park again, I found myself watching The Tin Pan Blues Band performing live. It gave a chance to sit down and relax in the suddenly wonderful sunshine as these guys plied their trade. I was impressed enough to pick up their CDs, too, and as we write I'm listening to their second album, Hounds Tooth.

The afternoon was spent in the Greenwich Village area as I got lost trying to find Partners and Crime, a bookstore I wasn't hugely aware of until recently before my arrival in NYC. But boy has that changed. These guys rock. I was there at the behest of Mr Reed Coleman and Gerald So (who sadly had to cancel his plans at at the last minute) to see the launch of the lovely SJ Rozan's latest novel. Its the rare author who can make their work come alive via reading, but SJ's got the reading art down cold, and it was great to hear her speak about the new book as well.

It was a great way to end my time in NYC, and I got a chance to speak to some great authors in attandance including soon-to-debuted Sara J Henry and the every wonderful Megan Abbot, whose novels are always a pleasure to read (in fact I really should have asked her when we can expect something new).

That evening, I managed to meet Charlie at the appointed time and place without too much hassle, and we ended my visit to NYC with some Chivas and some very good food.

But by then I was already panicking. After all, while I'd been dropping in on stores during my time in NYC, the next day would see my tour begin proper. I was about to have to start behaving, ya know, like a professional writer...

Au revoir


*the jetlag may have affected my capacity for metaphors, simile's and suchlike.

1 comment:

SARA J. HENRY said...

Ah, Russel, thanks for the shout-out, and I have some lovely pics of you up on my blog (and more that I won't post!). Great to meet you and looking forward to your next trip. (I launch in February at Partners & Crime.)