Most of my trip this summer will be done on bicycles, which have the dual virtues of being outdoors and of seeing things more closely and deeply than from cars or busses. I have a few upcoming novels and stories that need to feature some medieval-esque towns and castles, so France is always an excellent place to do research. I’ll also be spending a couple of days on the famed Mont St. Michel specifically for a book I’m writing that’s set in a similar monastery separated from the mainland by a causeway. So much opportunity for gothic fantasy there!
Sometimes we all need a little adventure in our lives.
Having to stay at home non-stop during the pandemic has produced the strange long-term effect that I’ve slowly devolved into a cat butler whose only functions in life are to let our two cats outside, back inside, dry said cats with a fluffy towel when they get wet, and listen to them complain about other cats daring to enter their territory (which isn’t actually their territory at all – it’s our neighbour’s back yard and one of the “invaders” is her cat whose lived there his whole life).
In addition, my every writing session starts with ten minutes of waiting for one of the cats to stop staring at the screen (judging me, of course) and finally settle down to a nap, because of course they couldn’t just let me write by myself. I’d screw everything up.
My wife is beginning to worry that my subservience to feline demands is becoming a tad excessive.
Spent a few days hiking along Hadrian’s Wall in England with my lovely agents. I bet no one told you one of the responsibilities of a literary agent was to guide their client across endless kilometres of roman wall, right? Just makes me glad I made sure that clause was in the contract as it was a wonderful time.
I’m also cycling solo along the Loire in France visiting various castles (in the writing world we call this “research”). The temperature is a fairly brutal 35 degrees Celsius and I’m actually surprised by just how hard it is to stay hydrated when you’re cycling for several hours even with drinking loads of water.
Anyway, lots of fun and interesting ideas coming up from all this!
When I was a little kid, my mother read an article that said that, regardless of the type of food, 3500 calories equaled one pound. From this nugget of science she reasoned that sending my brother and I to school with a half a large bar of chocolate was the same as a packed lunch. So began my life-long chocolate addiction . . .
The school eventually figured out something was up, grabbed me and forced me to eat an apple in a teacher’s lounge while they called my mother up on the phone and informed them that a half a large Hershey bar wasn’t an optimal lunch. Me? I ate the stupid apple and asked for the rest of my chocolate bar back.
Anyway, through a mixture of exercise, not over-indulging in anything else (no smoking, alcohol, drugs, … bunny rabbits? I don’t know a lot about addiction, okay?) I managed to survive on a diet of about 30% chocolate calories for decades.
What’s changed? Well, nothing really. Chocolate’s a pretty fun drug as these things go. If I get anxious, I reach for some delicious low-rent milk chocolate and it takes the edge off. But eventually you hit a point where you think, “how long do I want to stay hooked on something that’s really not good for me?”
Last year I went off chocolate entirely for a month (which I hadn’t done in . . . ever?) then eased back in to just have it if I was out for dinner or something like that. Luckily, it wasn’t too traumatic. But these things can creep up again over time, and Christmas yields lots of chocolaty treats which I consumed at an ever-more-impressive rate as the season went on.
So, back to no chocolate again until my birthday at the end of January (not eat my wife’s Toblerone chocolate cake? Are you mad?) and then back to “if we’re out for dinner”.
Not a very exciting story, really, but, well, what did you think you’d get when you clicked on the link?
P.S. Please don’t tell me about how good rich dark chocolate is for you. Dark chocolate is a vile trick played on chocolate lovers by the demonic forces infesting those who consume things whose names are preceded by words like “artisinal” and “vegan”.
Check out my events page if you want to know where I’ll be on the tour. I’ll try to update as soon as I get info from the organizers.
One of the first things people warned me when I started my career as an author way back in 2014 was that only blockbuster authors ever got to do book tours. Fortunately for me, that rule seems highly bendable. I’ve been fortunate enough to have my books published in fourteen languages and to get to do quite a bit of book touring. What’s surprising, though, is just how much variety there is in each type of event:
Guest of Honour
This was my first time being a guest of honour and I couldn’t have asked for a nicer group of people than the fine folks at the Esbjerg Fantasy Festival in Denmark. Not only did they fly me out from Canada, put me up in a nice hotel, and take excellent care of me, they were also just plain fun to hang out with. Best of all, I got to meet and spend a great deal of time with the legendary Patricia Briggs and her best friend and assistant, Ann. The two of them are wonderfully down to earth and kind, which meant I had the benefit of mentorship and thus managed to not completely embarrass myself in public.
What’s fun about panels is that you get to learn from other authors as well as from thoughtful and informed audiences. I’ve done a lot of panels and I never seem to get tired of them. I’m really looking forward to being on panels at Wigtown, DeptCon, and others.
The trick with these is that you never know if you’ll be talking to a packed house or four people who just happened to walk by when you started talking. Often these happen as interviews, which can be a lot of fun depending on whether the interviewer has heard of your books before or not . . .
I’m always a bit shy about these. It seems like schools get squeezed more and more, and lesson time is at a premium. In a bookstore it’s just understood that you’re there to meet fans and promote books, but students at a school have a right to expect that everyone put in front of them is there to enhance their education. I’ll try my best.
Sometimes you’re sent to a bookstore to do nothing more than sign copies of the books they put out on the shelf. No audience, no fanfare, just you and a pen and a soon-to-be-sore hand. That said, almost every time I’ve done it I’ve gotten to meet interesting booksellers who are, of course, some of the most well-educated and informed fantasy fans you could hope to meet.
Dinners . . . Dinners . . . Dinners!
I swear, there’s nothing publishers love more than taking authors out to dinner. The conversation is always fun and informative (publishing people generally being a fun lot), but I always feel like I should pick up the cheque. Trying to do so just gets you a slap on the wrist and a stern talking-to.
It’s always a privilege . . .
Whatever form a book event takes, it always feels like you’re getting this amazing and undeserved opportunity. Whether it’s standing on a big stage, delivering a guest of honour talk to a crowd, or chatting with a reader in a signing line, it’s always fun and invigorating.
How many of these tours will I get to do? Who knows. They’re certainly rarer than in the old days (or so I’m told, anyway), so I always try to approach them as if this one is the very last one for me. Fingers crossed that’s not the case!
Of all the strange turns in my career – earning a degree in archaeology only to discover I hate digs, taking up fencing for fun only to end up working as a fight choreographer, becoming one of the world’s truly terrible actors yet getting some fun parts, falling into becoming a product strategist . . . etc – the one thing I’ve kept doing since the age of nineteen is performing as a musician. Sometimes I’m hired to play guitar, other times keyboards or bass, often I do a lot of the singing (See? Even in music I’m the prototypical jack-of-all-trades, master of none.) Sometimes I’m playing very straight, formal shows, sometimes . . . well, here are a few of my recent gigs.
Bring back the eighties . . . and nineties?
A good friend of mine swears that the nineties were the end of rock & roll because almost nothing from that era has really stood the test of time (even Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hardly gets any radio play anymore compared to, say, A-Ha’s “Take on Me”). Still, it’s not for lack of trying. I recently got to play songs like Edwyn Collins “Never Met A Girl Like You Before” and Smash Mouth’s “All Star”. Classics? I don’t know, but people seemed to dig them.
Where’s my damned yellow submarine?
One of my favourite gigs is playing John Lennon in a groovy Beatles show called the Mop Tops. I’ve done a few of those gigs recently. There’s something truly fun about just playing the music of a single band – especially one as sonically compelling and diverse as the Beatles.
Wait . . . you want me to wear a what?
So apparently this was the fortieth anniversary of Animal House. Yes, that’s me wearing a toga. Yes, that look on my face perfectly expresses how weird I felt dressed like that while rocking out to tunes like Shout by Otis Day and the Knights and Twistin’ The Night Away by Sam Cooke.
I’ve since demanded that this become my official author photo for all my books. A good look, don’t you think?