Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Tour Part VIII: A Scot in Scotsdale

Mes Amis

At this year's Harrogate, I met a whole slew of poeople I haven't met before. But as we all know, I have always been a fan at Harrogate, never there in the guise of author. But it shows you that going out and meeting readers - and more importantly being nice to them - can sometimes pay off in unexpected ways. Particularly when that reader is someone like the marvellous Michelle from Arizona whom I met through fellow author Zoe Sharp.

You see Michelle asked me, "Are you going to tour the states?" and my reply was something like, "Yes, I'm thinking about it." She told me I should go through AZ.

"I'd love to, but I really don't know any of the stores there."

"There's Poisoned Pen."

"I've heard of them... They're meant to be bloody brilliant...why would they want me?"

Luckily for me, Michelle went and asked them that very question on her return to the states. And suddenly I had an email from Patrick at PP asking about an event. It was an accident, all through connections, but one that made me aware of just how open US bookshops were to a wee lad from Fife popping his head by.

So on the Monday before Bouchercon, I braved the skies once more to go from LA to Arizona for what was to be my last book stop on this tour. Flying out from Burbank (which wins a prize as my fave airport of the trip; comfortable and proper free internet access) at not-so-stupid-as-on-the-rest-of-the-tour-o'clock, I knew I wouldn't have the same transport problems as previous because this time I was being guided by Michelle, who had foolishly agreed to act as my tour guide.

After a leisurely Chinese lunch, we headed out for the desert to get a picture or me and a Cactus (hey, I had to do a couple of stupid tourist things).

But we didn't just get a pic of a cactus. Oh, no. We found a great roadside junk shop where I almost bought this bison

Got mauled by a bear

And shared a joke with this tin Indian chap.

And of course, Michelle "forced"* me to take this shot - - mind you, I think many people would agree I belong at a place called Malfunction Junction.

After this we went further on down the trail to find this place:

(yes, my sense of humour occasionally is that of a fifteen year old)

But that wasn't the greatest. Oh no, as we made to keave I suddenly realised what it said on this *other* sign:

Enter Yourself and enjoy.
Enter yourself.
And enjoy.
Say it with me, folks: what the fuck?

At this stage we decided the desert sun was getting to us and headed back to Scottsdale where your beardy hero checked into the Hotel Valley Ho. Now, I know some of you are snickering at the name, so quit it. Cos the Ho is quite simply the most awesome hotel I have yet stayed in. Like walking onto the set of Mad Men.

Here's the lovely Michelle in the lobby:

Here's a random burning bucket of coals.

When I left my room, here's what I saw:

So I freshened up and met Michelle at the bar where we indulged in retro cocktails. Now I'm a simple man. I like my beet. But you couldn't not drink cocktails at the Ho. They are truly wonderful.

Suitably liquored up, we headed out to Poisoned Pen, where we were met by Pat, Pat and Will and a strangely familiar bearded face that turned out to be criminal genius Keith Rawson who kidnapped me and took me a back room where we filmed an interview during which the cocktails came into play as I got all my John's mixed up. Oh dear, oh dear...

Anyway, following this I was taken onto the shop floor and interviewed for the waiting masses. This was one of the largest crowds yet and a great audience for the evening. We covered all the usual questions, although at least one person did have difficulty following the accent. I'm quite proud though as this was the only time it happened on the whole tour.

This was my last night officially on tour and while I had one more gig lined up at Bouchercon in SF, this was the last time I would be the main event. And seriously, I couldn't have asked for a better bookstore at which to finish. Not only that I got to shake the hand of the man who wrote Sharktopus, Mike MacLean. I mean, who could ask for anything more?

Once we were done, it was back to the Ho for food and more cocktails. And finally I wound my weary way to bed, where I stood out on the balcony of my retro hotel room and let the cool night air wash over me. Thinking about the next day. When once more I would be at the mercy of Mme Faust for round 3 of Russel Vs LA.
Au revoir


*Okay, I can't ever resist sticking my head through a hole with a funny painting on the other side. Its a strange weakness of mine. Plus there was a sombrero involved.


Sabrina E. Ogden said...

Love it. Glad you had such a great time and I really do hope you can make your way to Salt Lake one day. We don't have cactuses in the valley, but we can find a pioneer wagon or something to amuse you...

Small Town Girl said...

Only if I can come too Sabrina!

Fab pics Russel..the cactus is amazing!!

You are a lucky man...